GATLINBURG (WATE) -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.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is issuing parking passes for those wanting to see the synchronous fireflies this summer. All visitors wishing to view the synchronous fireflies must have a parking pass or register as a camper at the Elkmont Campground.
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Access to the viewing area during the 8-days of predicted peak activity is provided through a shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center. Hikers are not allowed to walk Visitors are not allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.
Parking passes cost $1.50 and will be available online at reaction.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777 beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The parking pass covers a maximum of six people in a single passenger vehicle. Four passes for oversize vehicles will also be available. There is a limit of one parking pass per household per season.
Passes for the shuttle service are $1.00 round trip per person. The fee will be collected when the person boards the shuttle. The number of passes issued each day is based on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity. The shuttle will begin picking up visitors at 7:00 pm. Passes will be issued each day based staggered with arrival times.
The firefly viewing will take place from June 2 through June 9. For more information on the synchronous fireflies, visit the park’s website.