One of the most unusual things to do in the Smokies happens for only a week or so every year and is sure to be an unforgettable experience. For a few nights, tens of thousands of lightning bugs light up the forests of the Great Smoky Mountains in an unbelievable display of light. With some careful planning, viewing the synchronous fireflies can be a fascinating addition to your list of Smoky Mountain attractions.
Smoky Mountain Attractions Start with Natural Wonder
Although the idea of watching insects in a forest at night may not initially sound all that appealing, the affect of thousands upon thousands of fireflies blinking is quite an amazing one. At Elkmont, however, what truly makes the display special is that the fireflies do it in turn.
One minute, the forest is in total darkness and, a moment later, an incredible number of golden lights appear, like fairy lights or tiny fireworks. There is no other experience that compares and, indeed, nowhere in the western hemisphere is it possible to see so many lightning bugs all at the same time.
Firefly Viewing is One of the Top Things to Do in the Smokies
This year, the peak of the firefly display will occur between May 30 and June 6. Tickets have for the main area at Elkmont have already sold out through a lottery, but fortunately, there are other ways to enjoy the incredible phenomenon.
First is to visit during the three days on either end of the main viewing period, convenient for those staying in the Smokies during the second weekend in June. The beautiful Elkmont region can be accessed without the reserved parking pass during these days, though there are still likely to be crowds.
The second is to view the fireflies at one of the two other places in the Smokies that the fireflies congregate. The first is near the Abrams Creek trailhead in Cades Cove, while the other is the Cataloochee Valley. The fireflies are much less likely to be active on rainy or cool (less than 50 degrees) nights.
If you are lucky enough to catch the fireflies in action, make sure you have already eaten dinner or packed some food. A foldable chair and blankets are advisable as well. If you have tickets for the “main event”, the first shuttle back to the parking area is 9:30 p.m. or later, so plan accordingly.
Enjoy Smoky Mountain Attractions from a Comfy Cabin
Witnessing this unusual phenomenon is worth the planning, but is even more enjoyable when you finish your day by relaxation in one of our cozy cabins in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Plan for a full day of Smoky Mountain attractions including the lighting bugs, by using the full kitchen in your cabin to prepare a hearty breakfast, snacks, and a picnic.
Cap off your fun day by hitting the hot tub and letting the jets massage your stresses away, or curl up on the sofa in front of a crackling fire. With mountain views and rustic yet luxurious interiors, your cabin makes for a great base for exploring all the things to do in the Smokies.