It’s an annual summer tradition in the Midlands – the synchronous fireflies at Congaree National Park.
Firefly season at the state park is not a sure thing – on May 13, there were fewer fireflies active in the evening compared to the previous night. The greatest numbers were seen along the Fireflies Trail near the Boardwalk.
There are NO exact dates for this phenomenon – park officials say it could begin in mid-May or later in June. Two big factors: soil conditions and temperature play a huge role in the nature of this event.
But in other news, the park did open the new Fireflies Trail on May 11. The trail begins at the picnic shelter and intersects with Bluff Trail and returns to the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. During the park’s peak visitation times in the evenings, the boardwalk will be reserved for visitors with special mobility needs. Other visitors are asked to use the new trail to view the phenomenon.
Visitors to the park and lovers of nature also should be advised that firefly season is the most popular time at the park, so the park advises that visitors familiarize themselves with the following information and etiquette:
Important Info & Viewing Etiquette
The Harry Hampton Visitor Center will be open for extended hours from Friday, May 11 through Sunday, May 20 (9 a.m.-10 p.m.).
This year there will be a designated Fireflies Trail, which will give access to prime viewing areas. This one-way trail will start at the Picnic Shelter, go under the elevated Boardwalk and will end at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Because of the large numbers of participants, the elevated section of the Boardwalk will only be open to those with mobility issues during evening hours (to allow those visitors easy access to viewing areas).
Strollers, wagons, etc. should not be used along the Fireflies Trail due to the many roots and high volume of visitors.
Dogs will NOT be allowed along the Fireflies Trail due to the large numbers of people expected. We highly recommend that visitors consider not bringing their dogs to the park during the evening hours.
Setting up chairs, hammocks and/or blankets will NOT be allowed by event participants.
If you are going to use insect repellent, please apply BEFORE entering the park. Insect repellent will adversely affect fireflies.
Because of the increased number of visitors, we ask that everyone keep noise levels to a minimum so that everyone can enjoy this special natural occurrence.
Flashlights should ONLY be used when absolutely necessary and they should only be pointed at the ground directly in front of you. The scientific evidence shows that even flashlights with red filters can interfere with fireflies breeding. Please be respectful of both the other visitors and the fireflies they are here to see.
Do not use flash photography. The flashing can be difficult to capture on camera/video.
Parking is very limited. Carpool when possible.
Bus and oversize vehicle parking will be very limited, so please plan to drop off passengers and have a set time to return to the park to pick them up. Parking for oversize vehicles is NOT guaranteed.
Be prepared for the weather.
Fireflies are only here for a few short weeks. Please do not capture them in jars or take them with you.
The best time to view the fireflies is just after dark, usually between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The best viewing is along the bluff. The boardwalk is a popular place to view them and they can also be seen along Bluff Trail and in Bluff Campground.