The Firefall Natural Phenomenon Arrives Early in Yosemite National Park

Photo by Katie Rodriguez

When February arrives in Yosemite National Park, photographers flock to Horsetail Falls to see the natural phenomenon that is the “Firefall.” The event was anticipated to occur between February 18 to 23, but visitors were shocked to find it arrived early with plenty of water flowing from the waterfall.

“Drove to Yosemite to photograph the firefall who made an early appearance this time of year,” wrote photographer Mark Bouldoukian on his popular Instagram page. “It was so quiet that you can hear the Merced river flow and birds singing. Usually you hear crowds yelling, cars passing, and cameras clicking.”

The Firefall occurs when sunlight hits Horestail Falls perfectly, appearing as if the falling water is on fire. The event has become so popular that park officials have enacted parking restrictions and forced day-use pass reservations during the scheduled event. To everyone’s surprise, that came early this year.

Bouldoukian’s photo and videos were proof that the Firefall is in full force this year, with more than enough water to marvel onlookers. If you want to see this year’s Firefall, day use reservations will be required to enter Yosemite National Park through February 28.

Reserve your February Yosemite pass here

Each private vehicle entering the park for day use will need a reservation and they will be valid for seven consecutive days. You do not need a day-use reservation if:

  • you have a camping or lodging reservation
  • you have a wilderness permit
  • you have a vacation rental reservation inside the park
  • you enter via the local public transit system (YARTS buses)
  • you enter with an authorized tour

With late December and early January seeing plenty of precipitation in the Sierra Nevada, there’s a great chance the Firefall could be in rare form this year. Get ready for the experience of a lifetime.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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