There is no shortage of natural wonders at Yosemite National Park, but for two weeks in February, the “firefall” steals the spotlight.

Horsetail Fall is a small waterfall located on the eastern edge of the El Capitan mountain in the Yosemite Valley. Every year, from mid to late February, when the fall is flowing, it takes a beautiful and bright orange glow at sunset. The striking phenomenon gives the impression that lava is flowing down the mountain. For a true firefall to take effect, however, there need to be clear skies and enough snow to allow water to flow, so plan your visit accordingly.

firefalle ffect at yosemite

Photo: Phitha Tanpairoj/Shutterstock

This year, the firefall will be visible from February 12 to 28th, with the best time being between 5:28 and 5:40 PM on February 22. The National Park Service is not requiring a permit or reservation to see Horsetail Fall, but there will be daily crowd restrictions from February 14 to February 27, from noon to 7:00 PM.

The term “firefall” was first used to describe a practice that occurred at Yosemite’s Glacier Point as early as 1873. Campfires built for guests near the edge of Glacier Point, where the Glacier Point Hotel used to stand, were pushed off the edge, creating the illusion of a stream set ablaze. That practice has since been outlawed, however, for safety reasons.

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