Synchronous firefly lottery and viewing dates announced for 2024

GATLINBURG, Tenn.—Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host the annual synchronous firefly viewing opportunity at Elkmont from Monday, June 3 through Monday, June 10. The public may apply for the limited viewing opportunity by entering a lottery for a vehicle reservation through www.recreation.gov. The lottery opens for reservation applications on Friday, April 26 at 10 a.m. EDT and closes Monday, April 29 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. Using the lottery system ensures everyone who applies for a reservation has an equal chance of getting one. 

Every year in late May or early June, hundreds of visitors near Elkmont Campground see the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Since 2006, the National Park Service has limited access to the Elkmont area to the eight days of predicted peak firefly activity. This helps reduce traffic congestion, provides a safe viewing experience for visitors, and minimizes disturbances to these unique fireflies during their two-week mating period.

A total of 1120 vehicle reservations, 140 per night, will be issued through the lottery process. The results of the lottery will be available no later than Monday, May 6. Each reservation allows one vehicle with a maximum of seven occupants to park at the Elkmont viewing location. The number of daily reservations is based on parking capacity and the ability to safely accommodate a large number of viewers on site will minimizing resource impacts.

Lottery applicants may enter two dates to take part in the viewing opportunity over the eight-day period. The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing to select applications. All lottery applicants will be charged a $1.00 application fee. Successful applicants will automatically be given reservations and a $24.00 reservation fee will be charged to the same credit or debit card used for the application fee. The $24.00 fee covers the cost of awarding the reservation, as well as on-site portable restrooms, supplies, and nightly personnel costs for managing the viewing opportunity.

Reservations are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. Regardless of the outcome, all lottery applicants will be notified by e-mail by May 6 if their application was successfully drawn or not.

During the viewing period, access to Elkmont is restricted after 4 p.m. to passenger vehicles with a reservation, registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground, or backcountry campers with a valid permit. Visitors are not allowed to walk or ride bicycles on the Elkmont entrance road or Jakes Creek Road after 4 p.m. due to safety concerns. Overnight parking at Little River Trailhead, Jakes Creek Trailhead, or the Appalachian Clubhouse is not allowed without a valid backcountry permit for backcountry campsites associated with these trailheads.

Search for “Great Smoky Mountains Firefly Viewing Lottery” at www.recreation.gov for more information and to enter the lottery. 

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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