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Yosemite’s Glowing Firefall

Glimpse the world-renowned “waterfall of fire.”

by San Francisco Bucket List


Horsetail Fall is a smaller, seasonal waterfall located on the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. And—for a few lucky days each February—the setting sun and snowfall cause the water to radiate brilliant orange and red hues, making it appear as though it is overflowing with neon lava. 

The rare phenomenon was thus nicknamed: “Firefall. 

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The fiery lighting will only occur on evenings with a completely clear sky, and when the right amount of water is flowing, so it can take some serious luck catching the brilliant sight. But talk about worth it for this view:

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To view Horsetail Fall, park at the Yosemite Falls parking lot just west of Yosemite Valley Lodge), then walk 1.5 miles to a special viewing area near El Capitan Picnic Area. It’s snow season, so bring layers of warm clothes and a flashlight. 

Due to the popularity of the event, restrictions are in effect during mid- to late February each year (February 12 through 24 in 2021) daily from noon to 7 pm. Details for 2021 are subject to change.

Due to current health guidelines, reservations are required to drive into Yosemite National Park starting February 8, 2021.

You do not need a day-use reservation if:
- you have a camping or lodging reservation
- you have a wilderness permit
- you have a vacation rental reservation inside the park
- you enter via the local public transit system (YARTS buses)
- you enter with an authorized tour

Where: Parking lot just west of Yosemite Valley Lodge, at 9006 Yosemite Lodge Dr, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389

For more information

(Cover Photo heyengel Via iStock)