Park officials have announced the Elkmont Firefly Viewing event in Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take place from Wednesday, June 4 through Wednesday, June 11. For this year’s viewing event, the on-line ticketing system, operated through Recreation.gov, will again provide visitors with parking passes to guarantee they will be able to park at Sugarlands Visitor Center without the inconvenience of having to arrive hours in advance.
Every year in late May or early June, thousands of visitors gather near the popular Elkmont Campground to observe the naturally occurring phenomenon of Photinus carolinus; a firefly species that flashes synchronously. Access to the viewing area is provided by shuttle from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. A parking pass will be required for all vehicles wishing to attend the event.
The pass will cover a maximum of 6 persons in a single passenger vehicle (less than 19 feet in length). Four passes for oversize vehicles, like a mini bus (19 to 30 feet in length and up to 24 persons), will also be available. Each reservation will cost $1.50. Parking passes will be non-refundable, non-transferable, and good only for the date issued. There is a limit of one parking pass per household per season. Each reservation through www.Recreation.gov will receive an e- mailed confirmation and specific information about the event.
The number of passes issued for each day will be based on the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot capacity. Passes will be issued with staggered arrival times in order to relieve congestion in the parking lot and for boarding the shuttles.
The shuttle buses, which are provided in partnership with the City of Gatlinburg, will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7p.m. The cost will be $1 round trip per person, as in previous years, and collected when boarding the shuttle.
The shuttle service will be the only transportation mode for visitor access during this period, except for registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. Visitors will not be allowed to walk the Elkmont entrance road due to safety concerns.
Passes can be purchased at www.Recreation.gov. Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but park officials strongly encourage the use of the on-line process, because it provides far more information to visitors about what to expect when they arrive at the park and because the process is faster and visitors are more likely to get a pass. The $1.50 reservation fee covers the cost of processing the requests for the passes. The park will not receive any revenue either from the reservations or the shuttle tickets.