Chasing synchronous and blue ghost fireflies in the Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
June 7-10, 2025

This trip is your chance to experience one-of-a-kind firefly phenomena: the synchronous fireflies and the rare blue ghost firefly.

You'll spend 3-days exploring the lush diversity and ancient Appalachian mountains of Tennesse. Then, as dusk falls, we'll visit find a quiet spot in the woods to watch thousands of fireflies wink on and off together.

I'll organize and book everything for you, and show you my favorite spots in our country's most visited national park.

No photography experience needed! I'll help you capture a shot of the fireflies. Plus, during the day, I want to help you get some unforgettable shots and upgrade your photography skills. I'll show you the best the park has to offer.

It's a phenomena that only happens for one week in this one place. And you get to experience the quiet beauty of the Smokies for yourself.

$1599 + Cost of your flight to Knoxville ($100-300 for major US cities)

What's included:

  • Book and manage your flight to TYS (you can book your own, if you prefer)
  • 3 nights lodging (double occupancy)
  • Transportation during the trip
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and water each day
  • Park admission
  • Guided hikes and drives
  • Photography coaching
  • 1 pre-trip virtual group session to configure your camera
  • 1 post trip virtual group photo editing tutorial on your photos

What's not included:

  • Transportation in your home city
  • Food and drinks on your flights
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Camera and gear (You can rent from me for extra)

What are the synchronous fireflies?

Every year in June the Great Smoky Mountains twinkle with lights as tens of thousands of synchronous fireflies blink back and forth in patterns.

It only occurs for one week in select locations as the lightning bugs emerge to mate. The females rest on the foliage of the forest floor while the males fly above them, synchronizing their flashing patterns.

Picture being in the woods, with countless christmas lights strung up everywhere. They truly are one of nature's fleeting moments.

What are the blue ghost fireflies?

Blue ghost fireflies are one of the world's smallest fireflies, only the size of a grain of rice.

Unlike their blinking cousins, blue ghosts stay lit, sometimes for minutes, as they float through the woodlands.

These delicate forest fairies are lesser known and more challenging to find. From a distance, they appear bluish white.

What Will We Do?

My top priority is to help you see both speciies of fireflies. I also want to help you upgrade your photo skills. The Smoky Mountains are the perfect place to practice and learn.

During the day, I'll show you around either on foot or in the car. We'll be hiking and enjoying the outdoors. I'll also help folks with their photos - settings, composition, scouting, planning for editing, and more.

At night, we'll find some great spots to view the fireflies and I'll help you set up your shots. Of course, if you'd rather explore on your own, feel free!

Day 1 - June 7:
Arrive in the morning / afternoon to McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville for pickup
Check in to mountain cabin or 3-star hotel
View fireflies in the evening

Day 2 - June 8:
Drive to Great Smoky Mountains NP in a van
Morning drive along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail and hike to Grotto Falls (3 miles)
Newfound Gap, Clingman's Dome, and the Appalachian Trail
View fireflies in the evening

Day 3 - June 9
Morning hike to Abrams Falls (5 miles)
Explore Cades Cove - wildlife and old appalachian structures
View Fireflies in the evening

Day 4 - June 10
Morning hike or drive through the Smokies
Drop off at Knoxville airport

$1599 + Cost of your flight to Knoxville ($100-300 for major US cities)

What else do you need to know?


Fireflies aren't guaranteed
The bugs are fragile, and don't do well in wind or rain. I know of multiple locations, weather depending, but if all of them have inclement weather fireflies won't come out.

Luckily, the Great Smoky Mountains are still gorgeous.

How big will the group be?
I have room for 5-7 other nature enthusiasts, plus myself.

How will we get around?
I’m renting a van (depending on how many people come). It's big enough to hold all our stuff and ourselves. Getting around will be a mix of driving and walking.

How strenuous is the hiking?
Depending on our daily plans and weather, we could hike up to 10 miles a day. Most of the trails are easy to moderate, but there may be a hike or two that involves some strenuous elevation change. The paths may be rocky and uneven.

What will the weather be like?
It's summertime! It could be hot, but it could also be a little cooler at the higher elevations. Plus, there's always a chance of rain or a storm.

Do I have to have a nice camera or be a good photographer?
All skill levels and cameras are welcome, whether that's a smart phone or DSLR. Seeing them with your eyes is magical.

However, the fireflies are challenging to get a picture of with a phone.

What food options are there?

All the restaurants I've picked have gluten free and vegan / vegetarian options. Food in the park is pretty limited. I’ll also have snacks and water for during the day and the car ride.

Can I get a room to myself?

If you'd like a single room, let me know. it will add approximately $350 to the cost of your trip.

Can I book my own flight?
Yes! If you'd like to book your own flights or find your own way to Knoxville, you can do that yourself. You can also stay in the area before and after the trip, I'm happy to drop you at a hotel or other place.

I will give you a time that you need to arrive by, and you are responsible for getting there by that time. If you are late and the group needs to head to the park, you might miss out on the first night of firefly viewing.

What happens if you need to cancel?
If you I will be asking everyone to pay in full by Mar 1. Refunds are not available after Mar 1, but you reschedule to a future trip.

If you cancel before Mar 1, I will return your deposit if I can fill your spot on the trip.

$1599 + Cost of your flight to Knoxville ($100-300 for major US cities)