Did you ever catch fireflies when you were a child? If you did, you probably remember the amazement you felt when you saw the small marvels flash brightly against a warm summer night sky. You can relive that wonder or share it with your own children by visiting Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this June. But be warned: the fireflies in the Smokies are unlike anything you've ever seen!
If you are visiting Pigeon Forge anytime from June 7through June 14, you can take advantage of the synchronous firefly viewing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These fireflies, a new discovery in the Smokies, are unique because they flash all together at once. The display of light is astounding! The popularity of firefly viewing led to the creation of a trolley service to the Elkmont area of the Smokies to allow visitors to see the fireflies easily and safely. Visitors who are interested in viewing the fireflies should know that the trolley service is the only way to access the Elkmont area from now until June 19 during the evening hours. Beginning at 6 PM, the trolley service offers a round trip from the Sugarlands Visitors Center near Gatlinburg to the Elkmont viewing area for a fee of one dollar. Trips to Elkmont will continue until 9 PM, and the last trip back from Elkmont will leave at 11 PM. No traffic other than the trolleys will be permitted to travel to Elkmont during these times. Visitors may bring water and something to sit on, but pets, coolers, and alcoholic beverages should not be brought into the park. Park Rangers will be at the site to assist visitors and hand out red cellophane to filter the white light of flashlights. The fireflies at Elkmont begin to flash at 9:30 PM.
Although it was once thought that the synchronous fireflies were only found at Elkmont, the fireflies can be viewed in any area of the Park similar to Elkmont where a river flows through the low elevations of the park. Similar conditions are found alongside major roadways in the National Park, so if you would like to explore on your own, you may find the fireflies in these areas, as long as you are away from headlights. The numerous marked quiet walkways adjacent to these roadways are an ideal place to look for synchronous fireflies. If you are visiting Pigeon Forge and the Smokies after June 14, you can still see the synchronous fireflies at higher elevations later in the month. For an experience like nothing else, visit Pigeon Forge this June and see the synchronous fireflies. For more information about synchronous firefly viewing in the Smokies, visit the National Park Service information page about the fireflies.