Tickets Won in Lottery Required for Congaree National Park Visitors To See This Rare Natural Phenomenon

by Victoria Santiago

If people want to see one special event at the Congaree National Park this year, they’ll have to win a lottery. Thousands of people have visited the national park to see this rare occurrence in the past. Now, it’ll be a little harder to catch a glimpse of the Congaree National Park fireflies.

At a Glance

  • Fireflies light up in unison in the park for about two weeks out of the year.
  • Viewing this event will be extremely limited.
  • The lottery for this event will open at the end of March.
  • The NPS is restricting the event to help protect the habitat of the fireflies.

Congaree National Park Lottery Will Get You An Amazing View

Each year, fireflies in the Congaree National Park light up in unison. Fireflies on their own are already pretty to look at, but seeing all of the lights twinkling at once is something out of a fairy tale. So, of course, people want to see them. However, nightly visitors will be limited to 120 vehicles per night, according to the National Park Service. The NPS is choosing to cut down on visiting numbers to help keep the firefly habitat safe. Also, they say that it will provide a better visitor experience.

Of course, this experience is already incredibly rare, without visiting restrictions. The fireflies only do this for about two weeks each spring. Usually, it happens sometime between mid-May and early June. In fact, the Congaree swamp is only one of a handful of places in the world where this happens.

Lottery Details

This year, the national park event will be held from May 20-22 and May 27-29. The lottery to view this event will open on March 31 at 10 a.m. Registration will close a week after, on April 6. Only one application per household will be accepted. Winners of the lottery will be announced on April 14.

Then, winners will be given a parking pass for one of the dates that they’ve chosen. It’s important to note that this date cannot be changed. The event will be held rain or shine, according to the NPS. In years past, there’s been no fee for seeing the fireflies. However, that has since changed. This year, there’s a non-refundable service fee of $1 to enter the lottery. In addition, the winners of the lottery will have to pay another non-refundable fee of $19.

Tickets for the event will only be given to passenger vehicles up to two axles that can fit into standard parking spaces, according to the NPS. According to The State, that means that motor homes, vehicles with trailers, buses or mini-buses, and other large vehicles will not be allowed to enter the park.

To further protect the firefly habitat, there will be a lot of restrictions in the park leading up to the event. The park entrance road will be closed to all visitors at 4 p.m. daily, through May 29.