Blog for Zipline Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Time To Play The (Firefly) Lottery!

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on April 16, 2019

One of the most spectacular annual events in the Smokies is coming up soon, and if you want to participate, you'll have to play the lottery.

We're not talking about the Tennessee Lottery but Great Smoky Mountains National Park's lottery that awards a limited number of parking passes to see this year's synchronous fireflies.

Okay, let's take a step backward before we pass on the lottery info. First, for those who don't know what synchronous fireflies are, they are one of at least 19 species of fireflies that live in the national park. What makes them unique, however, is that they are the only species in America that is capable, as a group, of flashing their lights in unison. This phenomenon occurs exclusively in the Elkmont section of the national park and only one other location on the entire planet.

Let's clarify: Not every single pulse of light from every firefly literally flashes at the exact same moment. But they are synchronized in the sense that the population will repeatedly flash their lights as a group for a minute or so and stop. Then a few minutes later, the fireflies will resume flashing in unison for a few minutes and stop. This pattern repeats for hours.

The lighting process, called bioluminescence, is part of the fireflies' annual mating display. Each species has a specific flash pattern that helps its male and female members recognize each other. The synchronous males fly and flash, while the females usually remain stationary and respond with a flash. (So this is one instance when flashing in the national park is perfectly legal.) The peak period for this synchrony lasts about two weeks, but scientists aren't able to predict exactly when this will take place each year. To cover their bases, the national park's viewing period runs from the third week in May to the third week in June.

Once upon a time, just a few years ago, anyone could simply drive to Elkmont, find a place to park their vehicle and walk to the viewing sites. But the event became so popular that there simply wasn't enough room to accommodate all the visitors. So the national park began operating a shuttle to transport a limited number of guests from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to Elkmont. And to be able to park at Sugarlands, you now have to enter an online lottery, taking place this year between Friday, April 26 and Monday, April 29. Applicants will be notified whether they were randomly selected or not on May 10.

Starting this year, you'll have to pay a $25 fee if you are selected. Also, there's a $2 per-person cash fee collected at the time you board the shuttle. This is all to help offset the park's costs of staging the event.

For more information about how to enter this lottery, visit: Firefly FAQ

As the time for the fireflies grows closer, we'll post another blog with specific information about the fireflies themselves and how this phenomenon occurs. We'll also pass along some tips as well as some do's and don'ts when it comes to firefly-viewing etiquette.

While early summer nights are great for watching fireflies, spring and summer days are made for ziplining. So here's a suggestion for a great outdoorsy day in the Smokies. You could start with a trip to our Smoky Mountain zipline adventure, located just two miles off the Parkway in Pigeon Forge. You'll spend hours here flying among the leafy treetops, enjoying fresh mountain air and some awesome views of our nearby mountain peaks.

Then, if you were lucky enough to get selected to receive a parking pass, you can drive less than a half-hour to the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg and get ready to experience one of the most fascinating sights in nature.


This content posted by Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Visit our home page, for more information on zipline adventures in the Smoky Mountains.

SMTG Blog Home



Fall in the Smokies

Gatlinburg, TN

Great Zipline Values

Group Fun

Pigeon Forge, TN

Places To Eat

Sevierville, TN


Smoky Mountains

Zip Lines in Other Parts of the World



September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

December 2016

November 2016

October 2016

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

May 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

Powered by StoneOakPress