Archives for: May 2012, 01
A spectacular late-spring showing of fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park has become so popular a tourist attraction that the park will require reservations for visitors to see it beginning this year.
Each June, thousands of the Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes synchronously, appear for a week or so near the Elkmont Campground. Last year, more than 7,000 people rode the shuttles required since 2005 from the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area to Elkmont to view the fireflies, a park news release says.
This year, because people have begun to crowd the parking lot early each afternoon while awaiting the evening shuttles, visitors will need a ticket to board a shuttle. Tickets will have staggered arrival and boarding times to relieve congestion.
The firefly viewing this year is from Saturday, June 2, through Sunday, June 10.
Tickets - parking passes - are available through recreation.gov for $1.50 and cover a maximum of six people in a single passenger vehicle (less than 19 feet long). "Four passes for oversize vehicles, like a mini bus (19 to 30 feet in length and up to 24 persons), will also be available," the release says.
"Parking passes may also be obtained by calling 1-877-444-6777, but Park officials strongly encourage the use of the online process, because it provides far more information to visitors about what to expect when they arrive at the Park," the release says.
Shuttle rides, provided by the city of Gatlinburg, begin at 7 p.m. each evening and cost another $1 (the same as previous years), which will be collected onboard. The park says it makes no money from this event; the reservation fee covers costs.
For those who are late to hear about the new reservation system, 25 parking passes for each evening will be made available online at 10 a.m. the day before the event until 3:30 p.m. the day of the event, or until they run out.