Set Your Alarms: The Lottery to See Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains Opens Friday

Apr 26, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Remember chasing fireflies around your backyard as a kid? Now imagine an entire forest lit up by their twinkling lights. That’s exactly what happens every spring, when thousands of fireflies congregate in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to mate — and create a spectacular light show.

And these aren’t just any fireflies. There are at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the park, but these synchronous (or Elkmont) fireflies are one of just a handful of species on Earth that synchronize their flash patterns. The males fly around flashing the lights in their abdomens, while the stationary females respond with a flash. No one knows exactly why this phenomenon occurs, but seeing thousands of fireflies flashing in the dark all at once certainly creates a magical effect.

So magical, in fact, that due to overwhelming demand, the park limits the number of visitors who can enter the viewing area. Prospective viewers must enter a lottery system on Recreation.gov in order to score one of the coveted parking passes required to enter the park.

This year’s spectacle will take place from May 30 to June 6, but the lottery opens on Friday, April 26 at 8am EST and closes on Monday, April 29 at 8pm EST. Winners will be announced on May 10.

Photo courtesy of Recreation.gov
Photo courtesy of Recreation.gov

During the peak firefly viewing season, which typically occurs for just two weeks out of every year, a total of 1,800 parking passes will be distributed. Each pass will cost $25, will be valid for just one day and will be assigned an arrival time between 6:30pm and 7:30pm. Visitors will need to park at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and take a shuttle to the Elkmont viewing area, where the fireflies put on their light show.

Park officials ask that visitors cover their flashlights with red or blue cellophane and only use them when walking to their viewing spot to avoid disrupting the fireflies. Visitors should protect the park by staying on the trails at all times, not trying to catch the fireflies and not leaving trash behind.

Featured photo by Haoxiang Yang / Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.