logo ×

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Every year, hundreds prepare and gather in Yosemite Valley in February, 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 Valentine’s Day (how romantic!).

Important note for 2024: Yosemite National Park is requiring reservations to enter the park on weekends during the Firefall/Horsetail Fall event season, however guests staying at The Redwoods In Yosemite Vacation Home Rentals, are not subject to the reservation system because all cabins are in Wawona, inside the park. If you have a valid Redwoods In Yosemite cabin reservation, simply show a copy of your booking confirmation (a screen capture is OK too), and a photo ID matching the reservation. You’ll be able to pay the entrance fee at the gate with a credit or debit card.

What makes for perfect conditions?

  1. Lots of snowfall and rain, and warm temperatures which means lots of snow melt and water flow! (2023 is definitely checking these boxes so far!)
  2. Visiting during the two-week window of time, which generally starts around Valentine’s Day, so that the sun is in the right spot in the sky. Check out this great resource for condition predictions from Aaron Meyers Photography.
  3. Clear skies! Clouds or fog may block the sun from transforming the water into what seems like red-hot lava.
  4. Check the weather conditions before you travel! There will be designated viewing areas and parking. 

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! And there is plenty to do in Yosemite in February beyond visiting Horsetail Fall at sunset.

When preparing, be sure to bring very warm clothes and extra batteries or chargers for your camera equipment. Speaking of equipment, the conditions are low light, so DSLR cameras with tripods take the best (non-blurry) pictures – though just sitting down to enjoy the spectacle is reward enough for the effort. You may also want to consider bringing a chair, and snacks and water. It will be chilly, so dress warm!

We wish you a fire-y experience!

Are you looking for a Yosemite rental cabin near the action?

Enjoy a crackling fireplace in one 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)! Plus, with a Redwoods In Yosemite cabin rental inside the park, no additional reservation is required to enter during 2023. That’s one less thing to worry about as you plan to enjoy the sights and sounds of Yosemite’s natural “Firefall” at Horsetail Fall. Many of our cabins are pet-friendly. Some homes feature spa tubs, and all have private decks with BBQs and upgraded linens for that, “Home Away from Home” experience.

Bringing a group? Our Event Center includes full use of the Fireside Room and adjacent deck, with audio and visual equipment and a catering kitchen.

Relax, explore, and escape in Yosemite!


video credit: Yosemite National Park
text credit: Christina P. Kantzavelos