A Guide to Viewing Synchronous Fireflies at Congaree National Park
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 12:00 PM 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.
Each year, fireflies synchronize for two-to-three weeks from mid-May to mid-June right here in Columbia SC. CNP is one of a handful of locations in North America where one can experience this phenomenon and it’s certainly the most accessible.
This year’s Fireflies Festival (May 10-27) will feature a designated Fireflies Trail giving access to prime viewing areas. The one-way trail starts at the picnic shelter, continues under the elevated boardwalk and ends at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. The boardwalk is designated for people with mobility issues during evening hours.
While the exact date of when the synchronous fireflies will begin is never known, the CNP staff are reporting that the fireflies are very close to being fully synced up. All indications seem to point to "Glow Time" beginning any night. That means, you will want to make plans to visit Columbia SC soon to witness the unforgettable display.
The Visitor Center will have extended hours and be open until 10 p.m. nightly during the festival. The best time to view the fireflies is just after dark, usually between 9 - 10 p.m.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Parking is limited, so carpool if possible. Buses should drop passengers off and return to pick them up. Bus and oversized vehicle parking is not guaranteed. Additionally, Congaree National Park and the COMET bus system are partnering to allow buses to shuttle attendees out to the park and back on the evenings of May 24-26. The buses will run from 7:30-10:30 p.m. on those nights. Patrons will be able to board the bus at the State Fairgrounds.
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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