Every year from mid- to late February, the setting sun hits Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall at just the right angle, creating the illusion that the waterfall is on fire. The phenomenon, which is known as the “firefall,” is estimated to happen between February 10–28, 2022, according to the National Park Service.
For the firefall at the 1,575-foot Horsetail Fall—located on the eastern side of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley—to be visible, conditions have to be nearly perfect. In addition to clear skies so that the sun can hit the waterfall, there also has to be enough snow melted so that the waterfall is flowing.
This year, the event may be seen as early as February 10 and run until February 28. Prime viewing could last from February 18 through February 23 with the best time to see Yosemite’s firefall being between 5:27 and 5:39 p.m. on February 21, according to forecasts from photographer Aaron Meyers, who has shot the event many times.
Where is the firefall located? How to get there
The firefall appears in Horsetail Fall. According to the NPS, to view Horsetail Fall, guests should park at Yosemite Falls parking (west of Yosemite Valley Lodge) and walk 1.5 miles to the viewing area near El Capitan Picnic Area. If that area is full, visitors are advised to park at Yosemite Village or Curry Village and use the free shuttle to get to the viewing area.
One lane of Northside Drive will be closed to vehicles to make way for pedestrians traveling between the Yosemite Falls parking site and the viewing area. Parking or stopping to unload passengers on Northside Drive in the area is prohibited. Find out more details about parking and accessing the area from the NPS website.
Visitors are also advised to bring warm clothes, as well as a headlamp or a flashlight.
While this event had previously been little-known, there has been a massive increase in interest in recent years. The new restrictions were added after the area had seen litter and unsanitary conditions due to a lack of facilities and more visitors, according to the NPS. This year, toilets and dumpsters will be available at the picnic area.
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