Firefly lottery opens Friday
The annual synchronous firefly viewing event will return to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year, but with a more limited lottery than usual so that attendees can park their personal vehicles nearby rather than taking the shuttle bus.
Every year in late May and early June, thousands of people gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, the synchronously flashing firefly species. Since 2006, park managers have limited access to the area during the eight days of predicted peak activity in order to reduce traffic, improve visitor safety and minimize disturbance to the fireflies.
The viewing opportunity at Elkmont will run Tuesday, June 1, through Tuesday, June 8, during the predicted peak activity period for the unique firefly species. During those dates, only passenger vehicles with a parking pass, registered campers staying at Elkmont Campground or backcountry campers with a valid permit will be allowed in the area after 4 p.m. There will be no overnight parking at the Little River Trailhead, Jakes Creek Trailhead or Appalachian Clubhouse without a valid backcountry permit for campsites accessed from those trailheads.
The lottery for vehicle pass applications opens at 10 a.m. Friday, April 30, and closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, May 3. Only one person per household may enter per season.
A total of 800 vehicle passes — 100 per night — will be issued through a randomized computer drawing, with results announced Friday, May 7. Each pass provides admission for one passenger vehicle with up to seven occupants to park directly at the viewing location. There is a $1 fee to enter the lottery, and successful applicants will be charged a $24 reservation fee to cover the cost of awarding the passes as well as onsite portable bathrooms, supplies and personnel costs for the event. Passes are non-refundable, non-transferable and good only for the date issued.
To enter the lottery, visit www.recreation.gov and search for “Great Smoky Mountains Firefly Viewing Lottery. Those without internet access can also call 1.877.444.6777 to enter. Learn more about synchronous fireflies at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/fireflies.htm.
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Is it to late now