The Lightning Bugs are Coming!

If you’re lucky enough to be staying in one of our mountain cabins between June 2-June 9, 2015, you might get the opportunity to see a natural phenomenon that occurs in only a small handful of places in the world.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Synchronous Fire Flies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The synchronous firefly “show” in the Elkmont viewing area takes place over two short weeks in early June each year. Although no one is quite sure just why the fireflies in this particular location synchronize their flashes, the result is wondrous whatever the reason. Whether the male beetles are optimizing their chances to be seen by the females or they’re trying to be the first to blink, you’ll see this phenomenon in only a couple of other places in North America. The display in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is certainly the most brilliant.

Getting to see such a rare event takes some planning, but is more than worth the effort. At this point in time, all advance passes are sold out, but you can still take advantage of the Day Before Parking Passes. These passes go on sale at 10 a.m. the day before. For instance, a Day Before Pass for June 3 would go on sale at 10 a.m. on June 2. Get your passes quickly because they don’t last long. You can book your passes by visiting the National Park web site here.

Once you have secured your pass, park at the Sugarlands Visitors Center lot, located 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on the Newfound Gap Road (US 441), and ride the $1 trolley (cash only) to the Elkmont viewing area. Trolleys begin departing around 7 p.m. and usually start returning around 9:30 p.m.

Here’s a great production by CBS from the 2014 season:

When you’re viewing the show, remember both the fireflies and your fellow viewers are affected by light. When you’re using your flashlight, try to limit your use to walking, aim the beam at the ground, and turn it off when you’ve found a viewing spot. Cell phones put out a lot of light as well. Try to keep your smart phone screen covered.

After riding the trolley back to your vehicle and making your way back to your cabin, you will still be marveling at one of the rarest events in the natural world located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in East Tennessee. That’s what you call making memories!