The Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event
Summertime is a great time to visit The Great Smoky Mountains and stay in Gatlinburg, TN. It also does not get better than being able to experience a true wonder of nature that only occurs in two places on earth during a short time each year. Every year in early to mid-June the fireflies who reside in the Gatlinburg area of The Great Smoky Mountains all come together for a spectacular synchronized light show. This rare species of firefly is only found in this part of The Great Smokys and in a specific region of Southeast Asia, and they seem to coordinate their blinking into a little light show that seems to be going to the beat of music. Between June 4th and June 12th each year you will have a chance to see this amazing live nature show and marvel at the beauty of The Smoky Mountain Synchronous Fireflies.
The Synchronous fireflies are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns with other related fireflies. This species of firefly has a special sensor inside their heads that lets them know when a nearby firefly has illuminated, in which they respond by flashing their own light as quickly as possible. The show starts soon after dusk, but as it may take a few minutes for them to completely sync up, eventually all of the fireflies start performing together with flashes that last up to 6 seconds. The synchronized firefly flashes presents an amazing wave of blinking lights that is astonishing and truly a natural phenomenon.
This natural light show featuring the amazing synchronous fireflies of The Great Smokys in Gatlinburg usually begins at dusk around 9:30pm. The following Gatlinburg Trolley Services will be provided for visitors for only $1 round trip per person from June 4th to June 12th.
- Starting at 7pm, Gatlinburg visitors may board the trolley from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. The Trolleys will run every 20-25 minutes. It will take you to the Little River trailhead at Elkmont. The last trolley back leaves at 11pm, and no private vehicles are allowed into the Elkmont entrance after 5pm. The trolley service is the only transportation in and out unless you are a registered camper at Elkmont.
- Bring a blanket and a small chair to relax in, a flashlight (lens covered in red cellophane to minimize bright lights), and a backpack with refreshments. The only amenities available while onsite are the portable toilets.
- Park Rangers and volunteers will be available in various locations for questions, guided walks, and assistance.
- No pets or alcoholic beverages are allowed.
- If you attempt to take video or photos, please do not use a flash. It not only disturbs the fireflies, but your picture will not turn out as you expect. Bring a tripod, turn off your flash, and set your aperture manually to f11 and take a long exposure for a few seconds. This will let you capture the glow of the synchronized fireflies.
Contact The Great Smoky Mountains National Park or The National Park Service for more information.