2022 Great Smoky Mountains National Park Firefly Viewing Lottery Opens

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Summer is almost here, which means it’s time for one of the most unforgettable experiences Great Smoky Mountain National Park has to offer.

Thousands of visitors will have the opportunity to see synchronous fireflies light up the Elkmont Campground. The visual experience occurs each year in late May and early June when Photinus carolinus, the famous luminous beetles, enter their peak mating period.

This year, the viewing period is from June 3 to 10. You can register for the lottery starting at 10 a.m. on Friday. The application period will remain open until 10 a.m. on May 3. (However, if you apply early, you won’t earn any bonus points.)

Thousands of fireflies gather, flashing their bioluminescent bodies in harmony, illuminating the dark, wooded campground. The synchronized show lights up the summer air “like stars falling from the sky,” Urban Life writer Ryan Wilusz reported in 2019.

After: The display of synchronous fireflies from the Smoky Mountains left us almost speechless

That year, nearly 29,000 people from all 50 states and 19 countries entered the lottery.

Fireflies live in the southern Appalachian region, with many of them in the Great Smoky Mountains. In 2006, the park began limiting access during the eight days of peak firefly activity to reduce traffic and avoid unnecessarily disturbing the fireflies.

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Watch Elkmont’s synchronous fireflies light up the Smokies

Watch Elkmont’s synchronous fireflies light up the Smokies

Calvin Mattheis, calvin.mattheis@knoxnews.com

Great Smoky Mountain National Park will distribute 800 viewing period passes (100 each night). Lottery winners will be charged a $24 reservation fee which covers the cost of passes, restrooms and supplies. Candidates will know if they have won a pass on May 13.

If you score a pass, make sure you plan to go. The pass is non-refundable, non-transferable and only valid on the day you get it. Access to Elkmont is restricted after 4:00 p.m. during the viewing period.

How to Enter the 2022 Firefly Watching Lottery

Visitors can visit www.recreation.gov and search “Great Smoky Mountains Firefly Viewing Lottery” for more information to enter the lottery.

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