The ever-growing popularity of the brief winter window for Yosemite's "firefall" phenomenon — the week or ten days when, if the weather is clear just before sunset, the angle of the sun magically lights up Horsetail Fall and makes it glow like a lava flow — means that in 2023, reservations will be required.
Last year, thanks to several years of Instagram fawning, National Park Service officials limited road access in the area in February, shutting down some roads and instituting a one-way loop for cars in which stopping and parking was not allowed.
Likely there will be some similar limitations this winter, but as the Chronicle reports today, there will also be required reservations now for cars, to limit things further. Admission to Yosemite National Park will be capped on certain days, and only those with day-use reservations will be permitted in.
Those weekend dates are February 10-12, February 17-19, and February 24-26. Camping reservations will also be required at Camp 4, Wawona, and Hodgdon Meadow campgrounds from February 1 through February 28.
You can find reservations here starting January 13, so mark your calendars if you need to go fetch your own shot of the "firefall."
Be warned, though, that there are no guarantees in this world — the dates when the phenomenon will hit its peak and when the weather will cooperate are not set in stone. The February 10 to February 24 window is usually when the peak days occur, but it could be cloudy and/or snowing at any point in there.
Peak time for the "firefall" effect is 15 minutes before sunset, so check the time — which will likely be between 5:30 and 6 p.m.
Top image: Cedric Letsch