The Smokies’ Annual Firefly Bonanza Is … Kinda Life-Changing, to Be Honest

The viewing lottery opens this weekend. Don't blink.

May 2, 2017 9:00 am

Synchronous fireflies: They’re the Infinity Room of the natural world. 

Like Yayoi Kusama’s hyper-Instagrammed, super-amazing, extremely sparkly spaces, synchronous fireflies are magical. All fireflies, in fact, are magical.

But these fireflies, officially known as Photinus carolinus, are special. Instead of lighting up when they choose to — making for a thousand individual points of light sparking on and off on a summer’s evening — Photinus carolinus light up together

Just like the Infinity Rooms, the interest in seeing bazillions of fireflies light up simultaneously is higher than capacity — which means the rangers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where these particular lightning bugs live, are forced to limit access.

Enter for a pass to view them near Elmont Campground in the park; the lucky few will hop a shuttle from a visitor’s center to the area near the campground during the eight-day span that makes up the fireflies’ peak mating season. Take your shot for a pass starting on Friday; firefly-viewing season begins on May 30. 

Image: Ryan Atkins


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