The annual, highly Instagrammable phenomenon known as the "firefall" that occurs at sunset in late February at Horsetail Fall is expected to begin again on February 12.

The phenomenon occurs because of the angle of the sun as it hits the waterfall at this time of year, turning Golden Hour into a fantastical moment in which the water appears to be the color of flames. Horsetail Fall is on the eastern edge of El Capitan, and visitors know to target this time of year to catch a glimpse — and some photos — of the "firefall," which only occurs when the sky is clear.

Travelers to Yosemite and photographers desperate for a shot of the firefall need to time things right to catch it. The best time is going to be around 5:30 p.m. but may shift a bit each evening when it's clear. And as ABC 7 reports, park officials say the ideal window this year is going to be February 12 to 24.


There are also COVID restrictions to contend with this year, and you need to reserve a day-use pass to enter the park starting today, and there are parking restrictions as well near Horsetail Fall.

The "firefall" also doesn't happen every year because it depends on there being enough rainfall/snowfall and snowmelt for there to be water coming off the fall — it ran dry on some days in 2019, as you can see below, and during the drought in 2015/2016 it didn't happen at all.

Here's one more that shows the 1,500-foot fall in its wintertime glory.

Photo: Getty Images

Top image: Getty Images