Synchronous fireflies at Elkmont in Gatlinburg!

Discussion in 'Let me tell you about my trip' started by epcotisbest, May 3, 2019.

  1. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    So excited I had to tell someone. We have seen the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont in Gatlinburg before and we have gone several times. This year I could not get reservations for the campground and the only other way to see this is to enter the National Park Service lottery and ride the trolley in from the visitor center if you are lucky enough to win a spot.
    The amount of people let in is strictly montitored because crowds over the years have grown so much.
    So anyway, we are registered for the lottery but the results won't be announced until May 10. I have been checking for a campsite just about every day for the last few months, but the campground sells out six months in advance in just a few minutes for this and we did not secure a spot this year.
    Today, I checked and there was a cancellation for the Friday and Saturday night we could go, so I grabbed it! So now, whether we get passes through the lottery or not won't matter, because if you are camping there, all you have to do is walk over to the viewing site, no trolley pass or parking pass required.
    Since I have not found the right new PUP yet, we will wind up tent camping, which we had just about decided not to do anymore, but will for this.
    Don't know if I am going to try to surprise my wife later, or go ahead and tell her today. Either way, yeah!

    Here is a video if you have any interest:

     
  2. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

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    Congrats. I stayed at Elkmont last year and loved it there. Didn’t go during the fireflies but I was OK with that as I don’t do crowds. What stuck me was how dark the area is and the few fireflies I saw were so bright umongst the black. So I can imagine how beautiful it will be during their prime.
     
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  3. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    You can see them at Congaree National Park in South Carolina, also.
     
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  4. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    I have been at ELKMONT a couple of times over the years and got to see the synchronous fireflies... It is a sight to see for sure...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
    I wasn't aware of this... I think the pubs all say that ELKMONT was the only place in US that had synchronous fireflies... Gatlinburg sure fills up with people during this couple of weeks... The park roads through the Natl Park are lined up on both sides of the road...

    We have a lot of fireflies here in Northern Neck Virginia around that same time frame but they are not the synchronous fireflies species...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

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    Synchronous Fireflies at Congaree
    [​IMG]
    Synchronous Fireflies light up the forest. (NPS/Vic McCord)
    2019 Synchronous Fireflies Season (Updated April 17, 2019)
    Please note that additional information will be provided as we get closer to this event and some of the details below are subject to change. Please check this page for the most up-to-date information.

    2019 Fireflies Festival (May 10-27)
    The Harry Hampton Visitor Center will be open until 10:00pm nightly from Friday, May 10 through Monday, May 27. Please note that the exact date of when the synchronous fireflies will begin is not known. They are normally active during a two to three week period sometime between mid-May and mid-June. During this year’s event there will be a designated Fireflies Trail, which will give access to prime viewing areas. This one-way trail will start at the Picnic Shelter, go under the elevated Boardwalk and will end at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Because of the large numbers of participants, the elevated section of the Boardwalk will only be open to those with mobility issues during evening hours.
     
  6. Nani2

    Nani2 Active Member

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    Sounds fun. Congratulations!!
     
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  7. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    After re-reading what was being said what I though was these were only at Camp ELKMONT... What they were saying was this is the only species of fireflies that blink together in America...

    Gotta read the fine print haha... I did read that fireflys are mostly East of the Miss River...

    I remember as a kid in southern Illinois we used to catch them in glass jars... Then my kids did the same thing in Jacksonville AR when they were little... These were regular fire flies...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
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  8. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    Yeah, the wording is a little confusing. Here is what it says on the National Park Service website:

    "Synchronous fireflies (Photinus carolinus) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns."

    So when it says the "only species in America whose individuals can synchronize," it does not mean that GSMNP is the only location that species is found, but is not terribly clear about it.

    On the recreation.gov website it does say this about the species and its range:

    Synchronous fireflies ( Photinus carolinus ) are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and one of only a few species in the world known to synchronize their flash patterns. This insects' reproductive display occurs for a couple of weeks every year throughout its range (southern Appalachians), and is typically in late May or early June in the Elkmont area of the park.

    Although I agree with you, I think at some time in the not so distant past it was promoted as Elkmont being the only place you could view synchronous fireflies. I believe I vaguely remember it being mentioned as the "only place in the world," but I could be confused. I often am.
     
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  9. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Active Member

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    I haven’t gotten to see them yet but will someday. I put in for the lottery this year. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work if we are lucky enough to be drawn, but I’ll make the 3.5 hour drive there with my son and drive back that night if I have to. [:D] Realistically, if we are drawn i’ll probably throw the tent in the car and stay the night in one of the other NP campgrounds.
     
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  10. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    Good luck with the lottery. Worth the trip should you win.
     
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  11. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Never even herd of them before. Cool! Its strange how small but how big out country atually is.
     
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  12. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    That's the truth. Makes me wonder what kind of similar events there are across the country that I will probably never experience or even hear about.
     
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  13. Nani2

    Nani2 Active Member

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    Is this reservation something she could be trying to get to surprise you? I think maybe tell her.
    I'm excited for you all and a little bit jealous. I had read about this and it is not a good time for us to go.
     
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  14. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    No, she lets me handle all the camping stuff and is mostly a somewhat unwilling participant. She does really like the firefly event though and will happily camp for it. We cancelled a trip (tent, since I still have not found the right pop up yet) at our favorite state park for this weekend because she wanted to have a yard sale, then cancelled the yard sale. I am a little miffed about that, but on the bright side, now I get to do yardwork instead, mowing, trimming, blowing, weed eating instead of camping and hiking...yeah a bunch.
     
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  15. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    I sort of remember it to haha... After checking google again I see SC and PA and TN are the only three places listed as having synchronize fire flies... Neat to know other places here are available... Gatlinburg area really gets bogged down with all the folks wanting to see them.... The park rangers really are spread thin in late May and early June... That old work camp building just off the ELKMONT road was loaded down with those fire flies big time back then... Must be their main breeding grounds... I took a lot of pictures the first time I saw them... That was all new to us haha...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. epcotisbest

    epcotisbest Active Member

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    So lottery results were announced yesterday (a day late). Any luck?
    Since we are camping, it won't matter for us, but we did not make it via lottery this time.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  17. Grizzly_Wayne

    Grizzly_Wayne Member

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    We moved here about 10 years ago. We went the first year we were here, when there was no lottery. We lined up for the bus at the visitors center 3 hours ahead. It was a mad house. The second time, we grabbed a campsite at Elkmont the last few days and camped. Walked up the road, like you are planning. Make sure you bring a decent blanket and/or sleeping bag. It was much cooler at night than we thought, lucky enough we had enough to stay warm. Elkmont is a great place to camp, even in a tent! Enjoy!
     
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