Yosemite Firefall

Yosemite Firefall

Yosemite National Park offers a wide range of outdoor adventures, but something rare to see is the firefall.

The Real Firefall

It was the summer of 1962 when I first visited Yosemite National Park.  A highlight of the visit was the firefall.  Every summer evening a crew would start a large fire high above Curry Village at Glacier Point.  At precisely 9pm they would push the burning embers over the rim producing a stunning firefall – a waterfall of fire – 3000 feet high.

While park visitors continued to clamor for the firefall, the Park Service put an end to the spectacular event in 1968.  These days there remains a photographic opportunity of a natural event that rivals that real firefall.

The Natural Firefall

It seems that for 10 days every February,  the sun is aligned so that as it sets it brightly illuminates Horsetail Falls.  This is a natural event, so nature sometimes makes it impossible to see.  For the last several years, a drought has left Horsetail Falls nearly dry during those ten days.  In addition to plentiful water coming over the falls,  the sky has to be clear.  When everything comes together,  visitors have just a few minutes to gasp at the sight and capture some photos.

If you’d like to see this spectacle, the time frame runs from about February 12 to about February 22 and the sun is properly aligned at 5:30 PM.  Get there early and locate Horsetail Falls on the east side of El Capitan.  Then find a position that gives you a good view of both the falls and the cliff.  Enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the park as you await the perfect moment.

The Video

This video provides some background and great views of both the real firefall and the solar event.



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