Synchronous Fireflies 2022 Event at Elkmont
If you want to witness one of the most amazing sights that the Great Smoky Mountains have to offer, then be sure to check out the incredible synchronous fireflies in Elkmont this summer. Many people refer to them as “lightning bugs” or “lighting bugs,” but the Photinus carolinus is an amazing synchronous firefly that finds its way to a special spot in the Great Smoky Mountains each year near Gatlinburg in the first part of June. Elkmont is one of the only places in the United States to see the synchronous fireflies making it an incredibly special event that very few people get to witness! Below, we provide information on how to get to Elkmont during the event along with photos and synchronous fireflies videos!
Synchronous Fireflies Event at Elkmont Dates 2022
The dates for the extremely popular synchronous firefly event in Elkmont for 2022 occurs every year in late May or early June. This year’s event dates will be announced by the park on April 26th. During the time of the event, the entrance road to Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closed to motor vehicles and pedestrians (except campers who are staying at the campground) beginning around 5 PM each of those nights.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ABOUT TICKETS:
In order to try and give as many people a fair chance as possible to purchase tickets, the park will be having a “lottery” to distribute a limited number of parking passes this year. The lottery will be open from 10 a.m. ET on Friday, April 29 until 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, May 3. Here is how they describe the lottery working:
- A link to APPLY FOR THE LOTTERY will be added to the official event page on April 29 at 10 a.m. ET – the link will be active until the lottery closes on May 3 at 10 a.m. ET
- Entering the lottery requires a $1 application fee
- Lottery winners will be charged $24 and awarded a parking pass
- There are no refunds, transfers, rain checks, or changes to the parking pass
- Lottery results will be announced on May 13th
- The event takes place from June 3-10, 2022
- Lottery winners must occupy the vehicle and must present photo identification, which matches the name of the lottery winner, before the vehicle is admitted to the parking area
- Only one parking pass will be awarded per household
- Each parking pass is valid only for the specified date. The preferred arrival time to check in at the kiosk is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. No late arrivals after 8:15 p.m. will be permitted.
A total of 800 vehicle passes will be distributed for the 8-day event. This equates to 100 passes per day. You may not have more than 7 people in a single vehicle.
Elkmont Viewing Area
In years past, there has been a shuttle taking viewers from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Elkmont viewing area, but this year, all vehicles will be checking in at the intersection near the Elkmont Campground Kiosk. Parking attendants will direct vehicles to parking spots in the Jakes Creek Trailhead parking lot, the Appalachian Clubhouse parking lot, and along the exit road.
Directions to Elkmont Viewing Area
To get to the Elkmont viewing area for the Synchronous fireflies event, you will travel 1.7 miles from Gatlinburg on US HWY 441 south. Turn onto Fighting Creek Gap Road at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, then go 4.9 miles west. Turn onto Elkmont Campground Road, and travel 1.5 miles to the intersection (Elkmont Rd and Little River Rd) with the campground kiosk. This is the check in for the viewing area.
Synchronous Fireflies Photos
Here is a slideshow of some amazing synchronous fireflies photos taken by Stacy Champagne. You can view and even purchase her photos of synchronized fireflies at https://pixdipity.zenfolio.com/p368611542
Synchronous Fireflies Video
Capturing video of synchronous fireflies in Elkmont has proven difficult for visitors over the years and seeing a video of them doesn’t even come close to how amazing the “light show” looks in person! Below is a video that a visitor took that gives an idea of what the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies look like when they get in sync. You’ll notice the first few seconds that a few fireflies light up and then around 10 seconds into the video a bunch of fireflies get in sync and start pulsating. Again, this is much more spectacular in person, but this will give you an idea of what it looks like!
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Fireflies Featured on CBS News
Finally, here is a news segment from a nearby news source in which a National Park entomologist explains how and why the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies light up for a more details explanation of this incredible event.
How Synchronous Fireflies Work
One of the biggest questions that gets asked is how do synchronous fireflies work or why they sync up. We’re better off leaving that answer to the experts who provide a very scientific explanation on why it happens in the first of June, why the synchronous fireflies end up at Elkmont in the Smoky Mountains, why they sync their lights, and more. You can find all of the details of synchronized fireflies at the National Park Service website below:
Final Thoughts about Synchronized Fireflies in Gatlinburg
If you have had the pleasure of seeing the synchronous fireflies in Gatlinburg in person, then please share your experience in the comments section below!
Be sure to share this article on facebook, twitter, pinterest, Google+, etc to let everyone get a peek at this amazing event in Gatlinburg, TN … one of the only places in the world to see a synchronous fireflies display!
angelajoyMay 20, 2014 at 8:48 pm
So excited to have a vacation on the books for Great Smokie Mtn. National park. We don’t arrive until June13th. Is there any chance of being able to view the fireflies at this time? Shuttles will not be running then but will the roads be open to public?
Granny & PapaJune 10, 2015 at 9:22 am
We will be arriving on June 12 with our four grandchildren and would love to share this experience with them. Has anyone been fortunate enough to see this spectacular display a few days after the posted dates?
DottieApril 27, 2018 at 8:52 am
Yes the are awesome! Seems the firefly’s did not get the memo to shut off their lights!!
We always go right after the masses
WoodspileMay 27, 2014 at 10:20 am
I have the same questions as “angelajoy”. We won’t be arriving until June 16th, and am wondering if we can still view them on our own?
keidre shawMay 25, 2015 at 8:36 pm
You can certainly go on the trails…unfortunately, the synchronized fireflies last two weeks and and the end peak time is around June 10. While there’s a slim chance you could still see it…if you’re coming the end of June you might barely miss them.
MichaelMay 29, 2014 at 10:04 am
If I am staying in Gatlinburg can I ride the trolley out to the sugarlands visitor center & would I have to make a reservation to see the fireflies.
Nita BellMay 31, 2014 at 8:29 pm
I can’t imagine wasting gas and time driving in traffic to watch bugs fly around. I did this when I was a child. I guess people do not have enough to do.
amandaJune 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm
Nita, I grew up outside of the Smokies and spent many nights watching the lightning bugs as a kid as well. At the age of 10 we moved to a large city and I have since lived in several other large cities. Due to light pollution the display of lightning bugs became a distant memory of summer, unless I came home for a visit, that I shared with many others who had never seen such a thing. You should not take for granted what others may view only once in their lifetime. Gas and time are not “wasted” by those who appreciate the small things and society at large has too many things to do. Take a breath, enjoy the bugs, listen to nature and maybe life will bring you happiness. I wish that you find the peace within yourself that allows you to leave negativity towards others behind.
JamieJune 5, 2014 at 11:13 am
Thanks, Amanda. That was very well spoken. 🙂
CharlesMay 1, 2016 at 12:10 pm
Thank you Amanda!!!!
JadaMay 9, 2016 at 1:11 pm
Well done Amanda. Well done.
BrendaMay 9, 2019 at 10:01 am
Thank you Amanda. So sad that there are people out there who just dont get it. Life goes by so very fast. We will never be able to relive the days of our youth.
LindaJune 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm
absolutely Amanda, I grew up watching lighting bugs and it seems that they are not around as much. A trip to the Smoky Mountains revives my soul. Seeing God’s creation at it’s best.
galeJune 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm
because you have never seen it .you did not know just how wonderful it is…..and do you look at sunsets .or like rainbow ,or fireworks
FayJuly 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm
How very sad for you… I too, saw fireflies at night as a child. Those days are gone, and I would LOVE to recreate this memory !
Cathy GFebruary 17, 2015 at 6:23 pm
You are not forced to go, so just stay home and let everyone else enjoy the beauty of nature.
CindyJune 7, 2015 at 8:43 pm
I don’t want to be negative, but it’s sad that people feel this way about something so amazing. “Nothing better to do than watch bugs fly around”? Are you serious? I wish you could feel the way my family did while sharing this experience together. It was awe-inspiring and a reminder to turn off the screens and enjoy something that can’t be reproduced or captured as well with a camera as by the naked eye. I guess people get their jollies in different ways, but if you ask me, nothing on a screen, at a silly show in pigeon forge, at a bar in Gatlinburg, or anything else in hillbilly Las Vegas can even compare to what I saw this past Wednesday night in Elkmont. It’s beautiful and natural and not to be missed.
CommenterJune 15, 2015 at 11:38 am
Why waste your time and effort commenting negatively on a web site where people obviously don’t care to hear such negative comments? It’s a quick trip in the park, and a nearly magical trip back through distant warm summer nights, to a time before these guys disappeared from all of our suburban lives. It’s worth the short drive even past peak season. We went on 6/14. Synchronicity seems to be gone. We figured they were just the fellow geeks who couldn’t get lucky before closing time… but they seemed to be getting it right 🙂
gwgottulaJune 8, 2014 at 10:32 am
I was unable to make reservations online. does anyone know of an outside tour or group that might have seating for one person? looking for tonight, Sunday, or Monday.
JennyJune 8, 2014 at 11:40 am
Nita what a sad life you must have. I feel sorry for you!!!!
. I have come from Australia to see this (once in a lifetime experience), we dont have fireflies back home. I have a friend in China that had a close up encounter with Pandas yesterday, It was an incrediable experience for her just as this will be for me.
Do you think if you were born in China that they wouldnt want to see there own chinese pandas.
Life can be wonderful, people like you should keep your terrible negative comments to yourself.
For all we know you are just sitting on a computer all day tearing others down.
To you I say. GET A LIFE
BrettWJune 9, 2014 at 9:15 am
Saw the fireflies this past Saturday (June 7th) and it was amazing. It is incredible how many are out there and when they all start flashing at the same time it is truly a unique and amazing sight. It was nice to just sit outside in the mountains listening to nature and just relaxing without a care in the world. I could have sat for hours out there just soaking it all in.
If you ever have the chance to see them, do it. I am sure we will be making a yearly trip up there to see this as it is truly an amazing sight.
JojoJuly 15, 2014 at 8:46 am
Hey Brett, did you see from river trail, or did you hike up the hill?
June JonesJuly 14, 2014 at 10:20 am
I cannot believe how negative some people can be.I lived in Florida and we never see them fireflies anymore.I remember as a kid running around catching them and putting them in a mason jar and watch them light up.Enjoy every single thing you can see and hear in nature.Life is Precious.I can”t wait to next June 2015
Pam springJuly 16, 2014 at 8:36 pm
Saw this on TV the other day”.”.”.
Wrong time of year when you are there
TerryApril 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm
I remember as a kid watching and catching fireflies and at one time they used to pay people to catch them for studying them.
It is one memory I can remember so well.I love nature and wish our children/grandchildren could see times in nature instead of video games and T.V.
KathyMay 22, 2015 at 7:51 pm
The Smokies are an experience that absorbs your soul. I live in Mississippi so the south is no stranger to me. Every trail, river, and even the silly town entertainments are pure joy. To be alone on a trail or river in these mountains lets you be
CandiceMay 29, 2015 at 4:20 pm
Am I missing where it tell the cost to reserve tickets?
KatJune 6, 2015 at 8:51 am
Has anyone been to this show this year (2015) wondering how the rain has affected the show.
ChrisJune 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm
We saw the fireflies on Friday, June 5 at the Elkmont viewing area. Words and pictures do not do it justice. It was a remarkable sight. The closest thing that I can think of to describe it is that it looks like someone went out and strung thousands of white Christmas twinkle lights on both sides of the road where we were sitting. It is very much how the rangers describe it. It had rained several times the day before we saw the display. Rain earlier in the day didn’t seem to affect the fireflies. It is a remarkable sight unlike anything that I have seen. Would love to see it again.
BrendaMay 16, 2018 at 11:41 am
If you are lucky enough to get to see the fire flys you are indeed a lucky person. I have tried for 5 years to get a lottery pass to see them and haven’t won one as yet. Sure wish there was another way to get a pass than the lottery. Surly there must be somewhere else to see them.