Adventure

Yosemite’s Famous Firefall Is About To Return: Here’s What You Need To Know

There’s no shortage of stunning waterfalls in California’s Yosemite National Park, but one in particular is about to steal the show. The famous natural phenomenon of the Yosemite Firefall is about to return

Horsetail Fall is a small, unassuming waterfall in the north of Yosemite Valley. Many people don’t even notice it’s there, but something incredible is about to happen that will make it unmissable.

For roughly two weeks in February, Horsetail Fall transforms into what’s known as a “firefall”. As the sun sets, the light illuminates the water in an orange glow that makes it look like fire streaming down the rock.

The natural phenomenon only occurs in mid- to late-February on evenings with a clear sky. That means there’s no guarantee that you’ll catch a glimpse of it if you head out to the National Park on any given evening. For your best chance, watch the sky – even a small amount of cloud can greatly reduce the sight of the Yosemite Firefall.

 

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Although the firefall is an entirely natural illusion, it’s named after an old tradition started by the residents of Yosemite Valley in the late 1800s. Glowing embers from a bonfire were pushed off the edge of Glacier Point and looked like flames flowing down towards the ground as they fell. The Yosemite Firefall was so popular that people were outraged when it was banned in 1968, which explains why the natural firefall at Horsetail Fall is so beloved. The other reason is just because it’s an amazing spectacle.

The first recorded sighting of the natural Yosemite Firefall was five years later, and since then visitors have been flocking to the valley to see it every year.

Visitors can watch the firefall without a permit or reservation, but should check the National Park’s website for any road closures or special rules. Also keep in mind that the closest parking spot is at least a mile away from the viewpoint, so you’ll need to bring warm clothes, hiking boots and a light source to travel to and from Horsetail Fall safely.

How to get there to the Yosemite Firefall

  • Fly Qantas to San Francisco
  • Drive east to California and Yosemite National Park (3h)
  • Yosemite National Park

(Lead image: US Department of the Interior / Instagram)