'Tis the season once again for seeing the Instagram-famous "firefall" at Yosemite National Park, otherwise known as Horsetail Fall when the setting sun strikes it just right for a couple of weeks in February.
This year, Yosemite is requiring reservations for all cars driving into the park on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on President's Day (February 19), but anyone is free to drive in Monday to Friday without reservations. Park officials say that if you're trying to see the "firefall" phenomenon, you'll want to go during the last two weeks of February on a day when it's clear that the sun will be out for sunset.
And you'll want to arrive by late morning or early afternoon to park your car and get into position, because you'll likely be jockeying for space with a whole lot of others.
While the sun has been hitting Horsetail Fall in this magical way for as long as there's been a waterfall there, at this time of year, the phenomenon became much more widely known thanks to social media in the last decade.
There were fewer chances to see the "firefall" in February 2023 because of all the snowstorms hitting Yosemite last winter, which caused whiteout conditions some days. But in 2022, due to the popularity of photographing the waterfall, park officials shut down certain areas and roads in the park to deter traffic.
The firy sunlight effect occurs for just a few moments, about five to 15 minutes before sunset — typically between 5:30 and 6 p.m. in the latter half of February — and only when it's not cloudy.
See a few example shots from Instagram below.
Top photo via Unsplash