Fireflies and Faeries

Checking off an Item from my Bucket List:

Growing up in South Mississippi, in the rural area of Caesar, one of my fondest memories is hanging outside, and especially at night. For some reasons, snakes, spiders, ticks, and any other creepy crawler didn't hinder me from participating in this nightly activity...

My little mind was always creating and dreaming. So, when those seasonal visits of fireflies filled the woods across the street from my home, I was there, watching in awe...mesmerized by the beauty and somehow the miracle of it all.

I pretended the swirling colorful swarms of flashing lights were really faeries and I was the only one to see them. Magic was all around.

From dreamy-eyed child to realistic adult, those precious moments of being immersed in fairy world are gone. Or at least, I thought so, until the opportunity to experience the synchronized firefly event at Elkmont Campground in the Smokies.

This weekend, I will be that young girl again and maybe, just maybe I will catch a glimpse of a real faery. I will make a wish either way just in case!

Fairy Tracy living in a dream world
So, ONCE upon a time, a woman of a certain age, who had seen much of life pass by, was drawn to a magical forest where dancing faeries performed a most amazing show. 

And, she lived happily, ever after.


2017 Synchronous Firefly Viewing Dates

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Contact: Public Affairs Office, 865-436-1207

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont
Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus,
a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has
been limited to shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center during the eight days
of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic congestion and provide a safe viewing
experience for visitors that minimizes disturbance to these unique fireflies during the critical
two-week mating period.

The lottery will be open for applications from Friday, April 28 at 12:00 noonuntil Monday,
May 1 at 8:00 p.m. Results of the lottery will be available on Wednesday, May 10. A total
of 1,800 vehicle passes will be available for the event which includes: 1768 regular-parking
passes (225 per day) which admit one passenger vehicle up to 19’ in length with a maximum
of six occupants, and 32 large-vehicle parking passes (four per day) which admit one large
vehicle (RV, mini-bus, etc.) from 19’ to 30’ in length, with a maximum of 24 occupants.
Lottery applicants must apply for either a regular-parking pass or large-vehicle parking
pass and then may choose two possible dates to attend the event over the eight-day
viewing period.

The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. There is no
fee to enter the lottery this year. If selected, the lottery winner will be charged a $2.75
reservation fee and awarded a parking pass. The parking pass permits visitors to park
at Sugarlands Visitor Center and allows occupants to access the shuttle service to Elkmont.

Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued.
There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants
will be notified by e-mail on May 10 that they were “successful” and awarded a parking pass
or “unsuccessful” and not able to secure a parking pass.

The number of passes issued each day is based primarily on the Sugarlands Visitor Center
parking lot capacity and the ability to accommodate a large number of viewers on site.
Arrival times will be assigned in order to relieve traffic congestion in the parking lot and
also for boarding the shuttles, which are provided in partnership with the City of Gatlinburg.
The shuttle buses will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus
parking area at 7:00 p.m. The cost will be $1.00 round trip per person, as in previous years,
and collected when boarding the shuttle. Cash will be the only form of payment accepted.

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period,
except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors are not allowed
to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.

Visitors may visit the website and search for “Firefly Event” for more
information and to enter the lottery. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling
1-877-444-6777, but park officials encourage the use of the online process. The $2.75
reservation fee covers the cost of awarding the passes.
For more information about the synchronous fireflies, please visit the park website at

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the dates for firefly viewing
 in Elkmont. Shuttle service to the viewing area will be provided on Tuesday, May 30 through
Tuesday, June 6. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must have 
a parking pass distributed through the lottery system at  


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