Firefall at Horsetail Falls

Northside Drive, Yosemite National Park

happyly approved

Unbelievable Light Event

Waterfall Turned Red

Firefall is one of the most spectacular displays of natural beauty that Yosemite National Park has to offer, but you have to come in the winter to see it. When conditions are just right, Horsetail Fall, located on the eastern side of El Capitan, lights up and resembles molten lava pouring over the side of the valley. Words and photos don’t do it justice. You need to see it for yourself!

Firefall only occurs when the sun angle is just right at sunset in mid-February. Plus, you’ll need enough snow or rain runoff to make a waterfall which doesn’t happen every winter, so there are no guarantees. In February the park closes one lane of Northside Drive, to allow visitors to park at Yosemite Falls and safely walk along the road to various viewing points. El Capitan Picnic Area is the most popular. You’ll want to bundle your kids up for this one and pack some hot chocolate while you wait for the sun to set.

In addition, remember that you’ll need to step off the road to watch the phenomenon. Depending on the weather, snow boots or waterproof shoes are important to keep dry and comfortable. The year we went, the valley floor had over five feet of snow, so we took our daughter in a hiking pack and kept her in it for the duration of the event since the snow was too deep for her to safely wander around.


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