Synchronous Fireflies 2020 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 2020
The dates for the extremely popular synchronous firefly event in Elkmont for 2020 occurs every year in late May or early June. This year’s event dates will be announced by the park on April 22nd. 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. To get access, there will be a shuttle that will pick passengers up at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near downtown Gatlinburg, TN. In order to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride the shuttle, you must purchase a parking pass, which are awarded through a special lottery with signups beginning April 26.
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 8 a.m. ET on Friday, April 26 until 8 p.m. ET on Monday, April 29. 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 24 at 8 a.m. ET – the link will be active until the lottery closes on April 28 at 8 p.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 7th
- 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
- The shuttle fee is $2 per person, roundtrip (cash only). Please bring exact change for the shuttle fee.
- Each parking pass is valid only for the specified date. An arrival time will be assigned.
Once the lottery is live, click the link below for full details on how to purchase a parking pass for Sugarlands Visitor Center:
The trolley ride to Elkmont to view the Gatlinburg synchronous fireflies costs $2 per person for a roundtrip fare and is cash only in exact change. The first trolley usually leaves the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot around 7 PM. The trolleys will begin returning from Elkmont when filled to capacity, which will likely be after 9:30 p.m. The whole trip (from the time you park to the time you arrive back to your car) will take anywhere from 3-6 hours, so definitely plan on eating dinner before you depart!
Directions to Sugarlands Visitor Center
The visitor center is located two miles south of Gatlinburg, TN on the Newfound Gap Road, aka U.S. Highway 441. Their physical address is 1420 Little River Rd Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
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 http://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!