How to See the Iconic Yosemite Firefall This Year

Photo by Gregory B Cuvelier/Shutterstock

How to See the Iconic Yosemite Firefall This Year

It's almost the time of year to see the beautiful Yosemite Firefall this year, this allusive phenomenon is difficult to catch in the act, but those who do manage to see it, are rewarded with a view of a lifetime.

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How to See the Iconic Yosemite Firefall This Year

What is the Firefall?

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The Yosemite Firefall is one of the most beautiful natural phenomenon in the world. Every year in mid-February the light from the sunset shines at just the perfect angle against Horsetail Fall to make the waterfall glow orange and red, like a waterfall of lava or fire. The waterfall is seasonable and depends on recent rainfall and cascades off of El Capitan, a rock formation in the Yosemite Valley.

History of the Firefall

Yosemite National Park USA

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The Yosemite Firefall was once an actual 'firefall', conducted by the Glacier Point Hotel as part of their Camp Curry resort, who would drop burning embers off the edge of a cliff face in Yosemite during the summer. From a distance the falling embers would look like a waterfall of fire. After having been performed for almost a hundred years, the Firefalls were stopped in 1968, due to environmental concerns. The old spot was at Glacier Point about eight kilometers from Horsetail Fall where the natural phenomenon of the Firefall occurs.

How to Get Near Horsetail Fall, Yosemite for the Firefall

Firefall at Yosemite National Park USA

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To get to the best viewing point for Horsetail Fall for the Firefall, head to the Yosemite Falls parking area and walk along the trail for about two kilometers until you get to the viewing point at El Capitan Picnic Area. Note that while you can drive up to the picnic area, parking isn't usually allowed there.

There are other points where you can view the Firefall, however the El Capitan Picnic Area is the best spot as it's closest to the waterfall. Viewing from places further south aren't usually best for the lighting, and points further east are quite far from the waterfall.

The GPS coordinates for the viewing spot are 37° 43’ 41.82”, -119° 37’ 13.62”.

Seeing the Yosemite Firefall in 2021

Firefall at Yosemite National Park USA

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Yosemite National Park is currently closed due to heavy snowfall and will not reopen until Monday, February 1st. This shouldn't affect seeing the Firefall but there are currently other precautions in place for preventing the spread of COVID-19. The park is only open from 8am to 5pm which would mean the Firefall would not be viewable (it appears about 5:30am), however these restrictions are expected to change from February.

Viewing times for the Yosemite Firefall for 2021 should be from February 11th to February 27th, with the best times from 18th-23rd February. The Firefall is visible at optimum conditions at sunrise for about ten minutes such as 5:28 to 5:40 on the 21st. If weather conditions are cloudy it's unlikely the Firefall will be visable.




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