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!
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