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Unseasonably Warm Weather Bringing Synchronized Fireflies Out Ahead Of Schedule At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Fireflies in the Smokies

Fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains are a mesmerizing spectacle, evidenced by this stunning photo by author and photographer Kevin Adams. For more on his photo techniques and workshops, visit this photo on its Photo of the Week page. Photo by Kevin Adams.

The fireflies at Great Smoky Mountains National Park know it's getting warmer earlier than usual. According to park officials, the synchronized fireflies that show their stuff at Elkmont are coming out ahead of schedule.

The shuttle service to the event site is still scheduled to take place from June 2-10 for ticketed reservation holders only. Park biologists are predicting that there may still be some activity during the weekend of June 2nd, but the display will be past peak and may taper off significantly well before the following weekend. Those with reservations are being advised of the possibility that the display will not be as good as in previous years.

This early showing has prompted Great Smoky officials to close the Elkmont entrance road to motor vehicles and pedestrian use every evening from Wednesday, May 30-Sunday, June 10. Only registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground will be allowed to access the road.

The park had set aside 25 parking passes aside to make available the day before the event though These passes may be withdrawn depending on the activity of the fireflies. Please visit for current status on these passes.

The popularity of the annual firefly event has made it necessary to close access to the Elkmont viewing area to protect park resources and visitor experiences. This closure requires the availability and coordination of a large number of park staff and the shuttle service provider.

The event is generally scheduled based on the recorded timing of firefly appearances in the past years, but Spring 2012 was uncharacteristically warm and made it difficult to accurately predict well in advance. Due to the logistics involved, the park does not have the flexibility to switch the event operations forward or backwards to match the peak firefly activity.


Early warm weather isn't all that's bad. The full moon is on June 4 - the very worst time to expect these bugs to do their thing. I've found even lightning on the horizon is enough to spoil their dance.

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