Horsetail Fall is a small seasonal waterfall that flows on the east side of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Around the second week of February, the fall displays a wonderful deep orange or red glow at sunset. It looks like lava or fire is flowing down, not water!
This natural phenomenon occurs only when conditions are right: the sunset angle is correct, there are no clouds on the horizon, and there is enough snowmelt to feed the waterfall. If everything comes together, the fall will light up for about ten minutes at sunset.
If conditions are not perfect, the water will not glow. For example, from 2011 to 2015, this phenomenon was not very vivid due to drought in California. In 2016, due to normal rain and snowfall, it was again an amazing spectacle.
The phenomenon is so popular, that people joke it has become a celebrity, which photographers go crazy for, and which attracts more spectators than any other place in Yosemite.
When can you see Horsetail Fall in its glowing color?
Horsetail Fall glows deep orange or red for a brief period, around mid-to-late February, when the angle of the sunset is perfect, there are no clouds, and there is enough snowmelt to feed it. During these minutes, the flow looks like fire or lava rather than water. However, it is just a small seasonal waterfall flowing on the eastern side of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Show more
What is the location of Horsetail Fall in Yosemite?
Located on the eastern side of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, Horsetail Fall is a temporary waterfall that flows for a few months after snowmelt. The fall's outlook is from El Capitan picnic area and roads that are adjacent. Due to the high number of visitors, traffic restrictions are imposed in the areas surrounding Horsetail Fall during the Firefall season in Yosemite National Park. Show more
When does Horsetail Fall turn into deep orange or red?
Horsetail Fall experiences a drastic color change from its usual white to deep orange or red around the second week of February, during its few-day illuminating period. However, it is not guaranteed that it will glow each year. The angle of the sunset, the presence of clouds near the horizon, enough snowmelt to feed the waterfall, all these conditions, have to overlap to cause the phenomenon. Show more
What are the conditions for Horsetail Fall to light up?
The perfect conditions for Horsetail Fall to light up involve enough snowmelt to feed it and the sunrise or sunset striking the water from a particular angle. The sky should have no clouds at the horizon, and the effects occur during mid-to-late February when the conditions meet. The waterfall illuminating event itself lasts only a few days, and during this time, Horsetail Fall looks like fire or lava rather than water. Show more
What attracts visitors to Yosemite National Park, aside from Firefall event?
Yosemite National Park is a famous destination for millions of visitors each year. It features thousands of hiking trails, plenty of exciting outdoor activities including rock climbing, rafting, and camping, and breathtaking vistas. Visitors can see several iconic landmarks such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. The place offers educational programs, art workshops, shopping, and scenic drives, among other attractions for visitors of any age. Show more