Yosemite National Park FireFall: a Nature Phenomenon

Photo taken by naminou on Instagram

Photo taken by naminou on Instagram

Maayan Shilon, Journalist

The Yosemite National Park Horsetail Waterfall, also known as the Yosemite Fire Fall. A phenomenon that only happens for a week, about 10 min a day. Many photographers from around the world come to Yosemite just to see this waterfall. 

Now, what makes this waterfall seem just like fire? Most of the year the waterfall is not even there. It can only happen in the winter since the waterfall starts when the ice flows down when it melts. It’s difficult to predict when this will happen. Scientists usually are only able to predict this a few weeks before. It is guessed to happen around the weeks of February 12-24. It all depends on the moisture, air clarity, and sunlight that all affect when and how it will happen. It mostly depends on the sun that makes this effect but, the sky also plays a big part of this because if the sky isn’t clear the sun might not be able to reach this waterfall to make it seem this way. When it does happen and you reach just the right angle you can capture the beautiful effect of this. 

You can see the Horsetail Waterfall in Mid-February at sunset. It happens for a week but only a certain time per day. It lasts for 30 min but only for about 10 min it reaches its peak when its glowing bright red. This year it happened on the week of February 24. 

This waterfall was first stumbled on by a talented photographer, Galen Rowwel in 1973. He was just driving around in his car in Yosemite when he found it. “I broke the speed limit racing the light to the base, where I jumped a signed fence with my 300mm lens to get a clear view.” Galen describes the first time he captured this. 

“It is a truly religious experience to see this display evolve,” Hawkins writes. “This year, after 5 years of drought, the conditions for shooting it are the best in almost 10 years.” Said describing the firefall in 2016 by Phil Hawkins who is a photographer who teaches landscape photography workshops in Yosemite. 

Another way someone described this phenomenon was the family of DeCovnick,

“In all of those visits, we’ve only seen the phenomenon in its full glory twice, and another four or five times with good color,” he said. “The moment when it lights up, actually refracting, all of a sudden, it just sorts of pops, glowing, lava-like, deep colors with vibrancy, gorgeous.” This Was said by the DeCovnicks who have visited to try to capture this waterfall about 20 times.

The amount of people that go to visit this waterfall just to see this is unimaginable. You can barely capture 30% of the crowd in one picture. This year even with Corona, still a lot of people travelled all the way to Yosemite to see this while trying to stay safe with masks on.



Yosemite Fire Fall Site

The SF Chronicle


Veronica Vorontsova (Has went to see the fire fall)