This year, the event will take place from May 30 to June 6, and the lottery for the parking passes opens on April 26, 2019, at 8 a.m. EST and will close on April 29, 2019, at 8 p.m. EST. You can enter the lottery at Recreation.gov.
During the peak firefly display period, there will be a shuttle service from the Sugarlands Visitor Center, located at the northern tip of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (which occupies portions of North Carolina and Tennessee). The shuttles will take passengers to the Elkmont viewing area, where the largest gathering of synchronous fireflies in the Western Hemisphere occurs. Visitors who wish to see these bright bugs put on their light display must acquire a parking pass for the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ride the shuttle to the viewing area.
The firefly display takes place in the Elkmont section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Fireflies' bioluminescent lanterns are tucked into their abdomens.
Even during the peak season, attendees aren’t guaranteed a perfect display, the park has cautioned. Environmental factors such as rainfall or cooler temperatures that fall below 50 degrees can shut down the display on any given night.
Nevertheless, those who would like to try their luck at having the rare chance to see the annual phenomenon will need to enter the lottery on April 26 at Recreation.gov. A total of 1,800 vehicle passes will be distributed for the eight-day event (or 225 per day): 1,768 regular parking passes (for vehicles up to 19 feet in length carrying a maximum of seven occupants), and 32 large vehicle passes (for buses and RVs ranging from 19 to 30 feet in length and carrying a maximum of 24 occupants).
Lottery applicants will be informed on Friday, May 10, as to whether they have obtained a vehicle pass. Each parking pass is valid only for a specified date, and an arrival time between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. will be assigned. There will be a $25 vehicle fee charged upfront, and an additional $2 (cash only) per-person fee will be charged when boarding the shuttle to the viewing area. No additional passes beyond those assigned during the lottery will be made available.
Attendees are asked to cover their flashlights with red or blue cellophane so that they don’t disrupt the viewing experience and to turn them off altogether when they have found a viewing spot. They are also asked to not catch the fireflies, so leave those Ball jars at home, folks!