Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains
Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.
By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on June 2, 2020
Normally, this is the time of year when folks would be coming to East Tennessee from all over the world to witness the synchronous fireflies of the Tremont section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You're probably familiar with them by now, but if you're not, prepare to be amazed. Tremont is home to a species of fireflies that lights up in unison during an approximate two-week period each year, most likely as part of their mating season. The national park is one of only a handful of places worldwide where this phenomenon takes place.
When we say synchronous, we don't mean that every single firefly literally fires up at exactly the same moment. But they do flash their lights on and off as a group at intermittent periods. Typically, they'll all stay dark for several minutes, and then they all start strobing at the same time and continue to do so as a group for perhaps a minute or so before stopping again.
This has become such a popular annual event that the National Park Service began regulating how many people could visit the Tremont area each year. Beginning in 2006, anyone interested in attending had to register for an online lottery, and only a limited number of people were selected to receive a parking pass at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. From there, shuttles would transport guests to Tremont, where they would then have to hike a short distance into the woods. At that point, you just set up your chairs and wait for dusk, and the show, to begin.
This year, of course, the event was canceled because of the coronavirus. In previous years, if you didn't win a parking spot in the lottery, you could still register for a campsite at Tremont and walk to the firefly viewing areas. Of you could drive your car up there during the period immediately before or after the official event window, and you'd still have a decent chance of seeing the fireflies in action. But so far, the national park campgrounds are still closed, so the Tremont campground area isn't accessible to the public at all right now.
However, there's still a way you can see the fireflies this year. On June 1, a non-profit organization called Discover Life in America (DLiA) presented a live YouTube event inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It featured scientists sharing lots of amazing information about all different types of fireflies, including the synchronous kind. The presentation was followed by a live camera feed from Tremont, which showed the fireflies doing what they do best when the sun goes down.
The live event has passed, but they still have the whole thing up on their YouTube channel. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jneuOra3NvI to view the entire half-hour program.
DLiA is a nonprofit organization based in the national park, the goal of which is to learn as much as possible about the estimated 60,000 to 80,000 species of life inside the park and to share that information with scientists and the general public. If you'd like to learn more about this group, visit their website.
Here's hoping we'll be able to see next year's synchronous firefly event up close and in person. In the meantime, did you know we can help you do some zip lining in Smoky Mountains? That's right. We're up and running again. If you're interested in spending a few hours on our canopy tour, please call us or visit our website to book it in advance.