A Guide to Viewing Synchronous Fireflies at Congaree National Park
Tuesday, April 5, 2022 12:00 AM by Charlene Slaughter
Love is in the air. A select group of fireflies throughout the world are beginning to find a mate in the ambiance of synchronized flashing lights at one of the Southeast’s oldest forests. Now, isn’t that romantic? Here’s your guide to the amazing occurrence of synchronized fireflies at Congaree National Park beginning soon.
With over 2,000 species found world-wide, there are only three species of synchronous flashing fireflies that can be found in North America. Every year, Congaree National Park hosts synchronous fireflies for approximately two weeks between mid-May and mid-June. During this time visitors can experience an awe-inspiring display of synchronous flashing while the fireflies search for a mate.
Due to the growing popularity of the Fireflies phenomenon, Congaree National Park has implemented specific nights to see the Fireflies. Visitors can enter a lottery system to attend one of the Fireflies viewing events May 20 - 22 or May 27 - 29. In order to protect critical firefly habitat and provide optimum visitor experience, viewing will be limited to 120 vehicles per night. Tickets will be required to enter the park in the evenings on those dates and will be available through a lottery system hosted on this site.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
The lottery will open at 10:00 a.m. EDT on March 31 and will remain open until 10:00 a.m. EDT on April 6, with results announced on April 14. A non-refundable service fee of $1 will be charged by Recreation.gov to enter the lottery. Participants selected through the lottery will be required to pay a $19 non-refundable event fee to secure tickets ($20 total). Tickets will only be issued for passenger vehicles up to two axles that can fit in standard parking spaces (i.e. no motor homes, vehicles with trailers, buses or mini-buses).
To further protect critical firefly habitat, the park entrance road will be closed to all visitors at 4:00 p.m. nightly beginning on Sunday, May 15 through Sunday, May 29. On those dates, visitors will not have access to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, frontcountry trails or the boardwalk after 4:00 p.m. However, the following areas of the park will remain open to the public on those evenings: Cedar Creek Canoe Trail, downstream from the South Cedar Creek Canoe Landing, Bates Ferry Trail, Fork Swamp Trail and all the park's backcountry east of Bridge “J” on Kingsnake Trail www.nps.gov/cong/planyourvisit/maps.htm.
Due to the large crowd expected, dogs, strollers, wagons, headlamps, using smartphones as flashlights, chairs, hammocks, blankets and flash photography are prohibited on the Fireflies Trail.
As mesmerizing as they are, participants are not allowed to capture fireflies within Congaree National Park. Noise levels should also be kept to a minimum and staying on the designated trail is a must as veering off may adversely impact the firefly habitat.
Please remember to dress for the occasion. Participants should wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes as roots and biting insects may be present. Also, be prepared for potential rain showers and spray on any bug repellent before you get to CNP.
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