Congaree National Park will be offering the public opportunities to view the park’s fireflies May 20-22 and May 27-29. In order to protect the health of visitors, staff, volunteers and community partners, the viewing will be limited to 25 vehicles per night. Tickets, which will be available through a lottery system hosted at www.recreation.gov/ticket, will be required to enter the park in the evenings on those dates.
The lottery will open at 11 am April 15 and will remain open until 11:59 pm April 19. The results will be announced April 23. A non-refundable service fee of $1 will be charged by Recreation.gov to enter the lottery. Participants who are selected through the lottery will be required to pay a non-refundable $19 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). Lottery details, rules and additional firefly viewing information may be found at www.nps.gov/cong/fireflies.htm.
“At our most recent fireflies event, over 12,000 visitors came to the park to view the fireflies and on some nights we welcomed over 2,000 visitors,” said Superintendent K. Lynn Berry.
“After consulting with public health officials, we determined that a smaller-scale event would be a wise decision. The lottery system, which is based on the one that has been used for a similar fireflies event at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for years, seemed to be the fairest way of determining who will have access each night. We understand that this is a big change from previous years, but the lottery allows us to provide access to firefly viewing in a way that helps ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for participants while also protecting firefly habitat.”
To further protect critical firefly habitat, the park entrance road will be closed to all visitors at 4 pm nightly May 11 – May 30. On those dates, visitors will not have access to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, Front Country trails, or the Boardwalk. However, the following areas of the park will remain open to the public on those evenings: Cedar Creek Canoe Trail, including South Cedar Creek and Bannister Bridge Canoe Landings, Bates Ferry Trail, Fork Swamp Trail, and all of the park’s backcountry.
The health and safety of visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners is the number one priority. Visitors are required to wear face masks in federal buildings including visitor centers, historic structures, and museums. When outdoors, face masks are required on NPS-managed lands when physical distance cannot be maintained.
For more information about viewing fireflies at Congaree National Park, visit nps.gov/cong/fireflies.