- The Power of Parks
Yosemite’s Sunlit Waterfall Looks Like Glowing Lava
If conditions are right in mid-February, Yosemite’s Horsetail waterfall can gleam a brilliant orange—as if it were a “firefall.”
For a couple of weeks each February, a waterfall in California’s Yosemite National Park appears to be set ablaze by the setting sun, a fleeting evening spectacle known as the “firefall.”
The effect is finicky, requiring superb conditions: The sunset must catch the 1,000-foot-tall Horsetail Fall just right to illuminate the mist with reds and oranges. Plus, there’s no guarantee of a waterfall, as it pours down El Capitan’s east side only if there’s enough water to fuel it.
If all goes well, the Yosemite Valley's rocky peaks progressively coat El Capitan in shadow from west to east during sunset, leaving a narrow swath of light on the waterfall just before sundown. The marked contrast between the