Fireflies Smoky Mountains National ParkThe Smokies will host shuttle service to view the once-a-year, natural phenomenon of the spectacular synchronous fireflies June 7-14 in Elkmont.

The viewing has become such a hot ticket that the park holds a lottery system for parking passes for anyone wishing to see the flickering insect show.

The lottery will be open for applications from noon April 27 to 8 p.m. April 30. Results of the lottery will be available May 9. 

Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the Elkmont Campground to observe the Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously.

Since 2006, access to the Elkmont area has been limited to shuttle service beginning at Sugarlands Visitor Center during the eight days when firefly synchronicity is predicted to  be at its peak, to reduce traffic congestion while minimizing disturbance to the fireflies during the critical two-week mating period.

A total of 1,800 vehicle passes will be available for the event, which includes 1,768 regular-parking passes (221 per day) for one passenger vehicle up to 19 feet long with a maximum of six occupants, and 32 large-vehicle parking passes (four per day) that admit one large vehicle such as an RV or mini-bus, from 19-30 feet long, with a maximum of 24 occupants.

Lottery applicants must apply for either a regular or large-vehicle parking pass and choose two possible dates to attend the event.

The lottery system uses a randomized computer drawing. There is no fee to shutterstock_1074204344.jpgenter the lottery. If selected, the lottery winner will be charged a $20 reservation fee and awarded a parking pass, which allows parking at Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and access the shuttle service to Elkmont.

Parking passes are non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one lottery application per household per season. All lottery applicants will be notified of results by e-mail May 9.

For those who are “successful,” arrival times and shuttle boarding times will be assigned. The shuttle buses will begin picking up visitors at 7 p.m. for a $2 round-trip, per-person, cash-only fee. 

The shuttle service is the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. 

Want to see the fireflies?

To enter the lottery, visit and search for “Firefly Event,” or call 877-444-6777. For more information about the synchronous fireflies, visit

Plan Your Vacation to See the Fireflies


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