Every year, hundreds prepare and gather in various locations throughout Yosemite Valley, in hopes of witnessing one of the world’s most amazing natural phenomena, the fire lit Horsetail Fall, also known as ‘Firefall.’ The stunning visual phenomenon occurs when an ephemeral (seasonal) waterfall that flows after snow melt or heavy rainfall on the west side of El Capitan, pairs with a cloudless sky and bright orange sun setting in just the right position to reflect off the granite rock behind the falls. When all those factors combine, it causes the waterfall to light up and transform into what looks like molten lava pouring down the massive rock for a solid 10-12 minutes. There is generally a two week window each year to potentially witness the Firefall. Typically this time window is starting around Valentines Day (how romantic!).
What makes for perfect conditions?
- Lots of snowfall and rain, which means lots of snow melt and water flow!
- Visiting during the two-week window of time, which generally starts around Valentines Day. This is a great resource for condition predictions: https://blog.aaronmphotography.com/2019/01/04/horsetail-falls-2019-yosemite-national-park/
- The sky needs to be clear, otherwise clouds or fog may block the sun from transforming the water into what seems like red hot lava.
- Arriving as early as possible. Luckily, there is lots to do in the valley in the winter while you wait! (Here is a list of 10 Things To Do in Yosemite this Winter)
- The two most popular locations to view the falls are the El Capitan picnic area and Southside Drive, east.
Don’t be discouraged if the conditions do not turn out perfect. You are still spending time in one of the world’s best national parks! When preparing, be sure to bring very warm clothes and extra batteries or charge for your camera equipment. Speaking of equipment, the conditions are low light, so DSLR cameras with tripods take the best (non-blurry) pictures. You may also want to consider bringing a chair, and lots of snacks and water.
We wish you a fire-y experience!
Are you looking for a cabin near the action?
We can guarantee a crackling fire place in any of our stunning Redwoods In Yosemite cabins located in historic Wawona, at the Southern entrance of Yosemite. Relaxing and private, these fully equipped vacation cabins border the wild and scenic South Fork of The Merced River, the Wawona swinging bridge and Chilnualna Falls (the second highest vertical drop waterfalls in Yosemite)! Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with an audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen. Many of our cabins are pet-friendly. Some homes feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQ’s and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience.
Relax, explore, and escape in Yosemite!
Yosemite National Park remains open so we are accepting guests. For a list of services and more information on what is open or closed in the park please visit this page.
video credit: Yosemite National Park
text credit: Christina P. Kantzavelos