Featured image for Yosemite's Firefall Shining Brightly in February

Yosemite's Firefall Shining Brightly in February

Publish Date: January 1, 1970
Contact Name: Phillip Imler
Contact Number: GANP Contact Page

Yosemite National Park is renowned for its abundant highlights like El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, and Bridalveil Falls.  However, there are few highlights that are more unique than Horsetail Fall during the month of February.

Nicknamed "Yosemite Firefall," Horsetail Fall appears like a waterfall on fire when the setting sun lights up the falls just right.  The projection of the setting sun, schedules this phenomenon to occur during the second week of February this year.

This is a highly sought-after phenomenon to witness, so visitors should anticipate the park to be busy.  You may have difficulties getting reservations inside the park if you have not already secured your accommodations.

The restricted zone that is situated between Yosemite Valley Lodge and the El Capitan Crossover delivers the most strategic lookouts.  It is imperative that visitors take action early to secure better views.  Traffic has increased over recent years and with Covid sending more people to the outdoors, travelers will be out in full force in the coming weeks.

A Conditional Highlight

Unfortunately, the renowned Firefall is not guaranteed.  A series of conditions must come together to create the right context for the firewall to be revealed.  If mother nature does not cooperate, the famous Yosemite Firefall will stay hidden.

One of the most important conditions is having enough snowfall that will serve as the waterfall's source of water.  A second concern is if the temperatures are freezing cold, this will prevent snowmelt and lessen the flow of water over the face of El Capitan.  Of course, rain or cloud cover will keep the sun from penetrating the falls keeping away the Firefall as well.

Having enough water flow over the edge is essential.  This is one of the reasons the Firefall is not witnessed in October when the sun is actually hitting the valley at the same angle.

A 10-Minute Phenomenon

If clear skies are present and the snowfall is melting, don't blink.  The sensational Yosemite Firefall experience will only last for about 10 minutes.  It is also just a beautiful landscape with the falls plummeting 1,570 feet (480 m) over the face of the renowned El Capitan.  This is recognized as the largest granite monolith in the world.

Watch the weather forecast for your best chances at witnessing this feat of mother nature.  The snowfall should already be known, so if the snowfall has been abundant, visitors are now watching for clear conditions and temperatures that lead to melting snow.