Best time to travel to Yosemite

Horsetail Fall or Firefall

For just a few days each year, this waterfall is illuminated by the sun and becomes one of Yosemite’s most amazing spectacles

Horsetail Fall or Firefall in Yosemite - Best Time
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© Steve Corey

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 o​n 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.

Horsetail Fall or Firefall in Yosemite - Best Season
Best time for Horsetail Fall or Firefall in Yosemite

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.

Caption from 2015: "Spent the weekend in Yosemite to witness the firewall that happens once a year around the second week of February. Although there was no waterfall, it was still an amazing experience. Already planning for next year."
Caption from 2015: "Spent the weekend in Yosemite to witness the firewall that happens once a year around the second week of February. Although there was no waterfall, it was still an amazing experience. Already planning for next year."
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