Every June for about two weeks during the mating season, the fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park begin to flash in unison. Great Smoky Mountains have 14 species of firefly in the park and this phenomenon involves all the male individuals of this one species. They are the only species in America whose individuals can synchronize their flashing light patterns.
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Great Smoky Mountains News Release
PARK MANAGERS CLOSE ELKMONT ENTRANCE ROAD NIGHTLY JUNE 5-13
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced that the Elkmont entrance road will be closed to motor vehicles and pedestrian use every night from at 5:00 p.m. until midnight, June 5-13, except to registered campers staying at the Elkmont Campground. The closure is to accommodate transportation service for visitors planning to spend the evening viewing the natural-occurring, synchronous firefly beetles at Elkmont.
The City of Gatlinburg, in partnership with the Park, will provide the trolleys for this activity. The trolley service, coinciding with the expected peak flashing period, will be the sole transportation mode for visitor access during this period; no private vehicles will be allowed to enter Elkmont. For safety purposes, restrictions will be in place to prohibit motor vehicles from parking along roadsides, pullouts, or any other areas besides at the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area for the purposes of viewing fireflies at Elkmont. Only those visitors parking at the visitor center will be allowed to ride the trolleys. Because of safety concerns, visitors will not be allowed to walk the Elkmont Entrance Road.
The trolleys will begin picking up visitors from the Sugarlands Visitor Center RV/bus parking area at 7 p.m. The trolleys will run continually until the Sugarlands Visitor Center parking area is full or until 9 p.m., whichever comes first. The last trolley to return visitors from Elkmont to the Sugarlands Visitor Center is scheduled at 11 p.m. The cost will be $1 round trip per person as in previous years.
For those riding the trolleys, it is recommended that visitors bring flashlights with red cellophane covers to reduce white light. Visitors can bring lawn chairs, and carry food and water in backpacks which can fit on their laps in the trolleys; there are no services available at the site. Visitors are prohibited from bringing coolers, alcoholic beverages, or their pets.