How to see the synchronous fireflies at Congaree National Park

Here’s how to snag your tickets so you can see the How to see the synchronous fireflies at Congaree National Park.

Conagree National Park

Enter the lottery to see synchronous fireflies light up Conagree National Park | Photo by National Park Services

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Each spring and early summer, fireflies return to the Congaree National Park and mysteriously synchronize their flashing. SC’s only national park hosts a synchronous fireflies viewing event for ~two weeks between mid-May and mid-June when this natural phenomenon occurs. This year’s event will take place from Thursday, May 16 to Saturday, May 25.

The awe-inspiring display of synchronous flashing has become so popular that visitors now can only see it if they are selected from a lottery.

How it works

  • The lottery opens on Thursday, April 4, and closes on Wednesday, April 10. Winners will be notified on Tuesday, April 16.
  • All applicants are charged a $1 fee upon lottery entry. Those selected will be charged the remaining $24 to secure their passes.
  • Passes admit one passenger vehicle with up to two axles + eight passengers.
  • Passes are non-transferable and valid only for the specified date.

What to expect

The gates for those with passes will open at 7 p.m. and close at 8:30 p.m. Pro tip: The best time to view fireflies is between 9 and 10 p.m., but be aware — bad weather can affect firefly activity.

Congaree National Park emphasizes the well-being of fireflies because this phenomenon only happens in a handful of places. To protect firefly habitats, certain areas of the park will close daily at 4:30 p.m. between Thursday, May 16 + Saturday, May 25.

Follow these firefly rules

  • Minimize flashlight use and use only red-mode lights or lights with a red filter.
  • Avoid using cell phones for light or photography/video in the viewing area.
  • Stay on the designated Firefly Trail while exploring.
  • Refrain from catching or disturbing the fireflies.
  • You can apply insect repellent before arriving at the park, but no repellent can be applied after entry.
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