Synchronous fireflies might be the most magical thing about the Great Smoky Mountains. Every summer, this species of lightning bugs puts on an incredible display in the national park that you can’t find anywhere else in the United States. The fireflies are known as “synchronous”, because they flash their lights in sync, just like a Christmas light show.
As one of the most popular things to do in the Smokies, this yearly tradition brings over a thousand visitors to the national park each night. Read on to learn how you can reserve your spot at the synchronous fireflies event in Gatlinburg!
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When and Where
The fireflies will perform their light show every night from June 4 – 11 at the Elkmont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fireflies have picked the Elkmont section of the park for their ritual because the moist forest and the underbrush allow the lightning bus to see each other clearly. Lucky for us, it’s also a great place for humans to watch the show too!
Parking Passes Needed
The road to Elkmont will be closed off during the event, but a trolley will be on hand at the Sugarlands Visitor Center to take guests to see the fireflies. Everyone who parks at Sugarlands will need to purchase a special parking pass.
Passes go on sale at 10:00 a.m. on April 30 at the Recreation.gov website. The fireflies event is incredibly popular, so be sure to order your parking passes before they sell out!
Trolleys will start leaving from the Sugarlands Visitor Center around 7 p.m. Round trip fare is $1 per person, so be sure to bring some cash! You can expect to spend at least 2 and ½ hours at Elkmont because the trolleys do not return to Sugarlands until they are filled to capacity.
Sugarlands Visitor Center is located at 1420 Old State Highway 73 Scenic, Gatlinburg TN 37738.
It’s All About Love
The incredible light show people enjoy every year is actually part of the fireflies’ mating ritual. Male fireflies produce very bright flashes in hopes that they will impress the lady lightning bugs! If you look closely, you can actually see the female fireflies respond to the male’s flashes with some fainter flashes of their own.
Scientists still don’t know for certain why the male fireflies light up in sync. One popular theory is that the males are competing with one another to be the first to flash. Another theory is that the male fireflies flash in unison because it draws attention to their group and lets the females easily compare potential mates.
Whatever the real reason is for the synchronous flashing, everyone agrees it makes for one spectacular show!
Where to Stay
Our cabins are just minutes away from the synchronous fireflies event in Gatlinburg! With indoor and outdoor pools, bubbly hot tubs, and an unbeatable location, Amazing Views Cabin Rentals has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. Visit our Gatlinburg Cabins page to find the perfect place to stay for your next trip to the Smokies, or give us a call at 855-849-8977.