Congaree National Park is one of the best places in the state to watch fireflies, and the annual public visitations will begin May 20, but with a different approach than previous years.

The park will offer two separate sessions for nature lovers to enjoy the firefly display beginning May 20-22 and May 27-29. For COVID safety measures, only 25 cars can enter the park per night. Tickets will be available on a lottery system for $1, and the park will not grant entry without one. Congaree National Park, just south of Columbia, will open the lottery starting at 11:00 a.m. on April 15 and close on April 19 at 11:59 p.m.

Superintendent for Congaree National Park K. Lynn Berry acknowledged the change from past years’ firefly exhibits. “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,” Berry said.

Lottery winners will be announced on April 23. Once chosen, each car will pay $19 to enter the park. The park entrance road will be closed to all visitors at 4:00 p.m nightly starting May 11 through May 30 To protect the critical firefly habit.