Congaree National Park has announced the dates for the 2023 Synchronous Fireflies Viewing Event, which will take place May 13-16 and May 19-24, and will offer the public opportunities to observe the synchronous fireflies.
Passes will be required to enter the park on event nights and will be made available through a lottery hosted through www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/300008.
This year’s event will feature some modifications compared to past years. The goal of these changes is to enhance visitor access and opportunities for viewing the synchronous fireflies and to further improve the long-term sustainability of the annual event. These modifications will include:
- Increasing the number of passes available for each night.
- Increasing the number of event nights.
- An increase in the event fee of $5 to provide each vehicle with a low lumen red flashlight to reduce the amount of ambient light in the viewing area and help protect the fireflies.
- Set times for event entry between 6:30 – 8:30 pm to reduce the impact of vehicle headlights on firefly activity.
“The viewing of the synchronized fireflies has become the signature event of Congaree National Park,” said Superintendent Greg Hauburger. “We are continuing to look for ways to increase opportunities for people to experience this amazing phenomenon while also doing all we can to protect these amazing insects and ensure that we have fireflies for the future.”
The lottery to apply for a vehicle pass to attend this year’s event will open at 10 am EDT April 6, and will be open until 10 am EDT April 12, with results announced April 17.
Lottery entries are limited to one per household and may only be made through the lottery page. There will be 130 passes available for each event night. All applicants will be charged a $1 non-refundable service fee upon entering the lottery, and successful applicants will be required to pay a $24 non-refundable event fee to secure their pass. Passes will admit one passenger vehicle with up to 2 axles that can fit in a standard parking space (i.e. no RVs, vehicles with trailers, large passenger vans, buses or mini-buses). Vehicles may have a maximum of 8 passengers.
To best protect critical firefly habitat certain areas of the park will be closed to all visitors at 4 pm daily from May 7 – 27. During this period the following areas will be closed:
- The Harry Hampton Visitor Center, boardwalk, and frontcountry hiking trails.
- Bannister Bridge Canoe Launch will close at 4 pm.
- Cedar Creek between Bannister Bridge and South Cedar Creek Canoe Launch will be closed as well.
- Longleaf and Bluff Campgrounds will be closed and backcountry camping permits will also not be issued.
Areas that will remain open after 4 pm will be Cedar Creek downstream from South Cedar Creek Canoe Launch, the Kingsnake Trail to Bridge I, and the Bates Ferry and Fork Swamp trails in the eastern end of the park along the US 601 corridor.
For more information about viewing the synchronized fireflies at Congaree visit www.nps.gov/cong/fireflies.htm.