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© Devon Spencer / Shutterstock
© Devon Spencer / Shutterstock

Yosemite's "Firefall" Returned, and it Was Amazing

Picture of Luke Abrahams
Social Content Editor
Updated: 9 January 2018

The annual event turns the National Park’s stunning waterfalls into fiery orange cascades. 

California‘s Yosemite National Park is known for its mammoth peaks, glittering tundras and epic waterfalls, some descending a dizzying 2,000 feet (609.6m).

© Phitha Tanpairoj / Shutterstock

The sun hitting a waterfall creates what looks like fire | © Phitha Tanpairoj / Shutterstock

So what is a firefall? Well, it’s created when the sun hits one of the park’s waterfalls in such a dramatic way that it looks like it’s actually on fire. The phenomenon is so spellbinding that it draws in photographers from across the globe every winter (as if California even has winters).

© Checubus / Shutterstock

Dramatic effects | © Checubus / Shutterstock

This year’s Firefall was an absolute stunner for those who were lucky enough to see it at the park’s Horsetail Fall. To get the perfect shot, the sun has to shine down on the fall at exactly the right angle. There can’t be too much cloud, and there needs to be enough melting snow during winter to create enough runoff.

© Phitha Tanpairoj / Shutterstock

Liquid dire | © Phitha Tanpairoj / Shutterstock

If you missed it, don’t worry—there will be a few more happening until the end of February, but for now, just take a look at some of these awesome shots of the recent Firefall posted on Instagram below:






The phenomenon known as "Fire fall". Here is some history from @yosemite_national_park. The waterfall itself is called Horsetail waterfall located on the east side of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. If the waterfall is flowing during mid February and the conditions are just right you'll get the sun ☀️ hitting the rock at just the right angle producing the "Fire 🔥" effect. The name "Fire fall" actually came from a tradition in 1872 where a bonfire was built every evening at Glacier Point. People from all around the valley would gather down below in Curry village to watch the bonfire be pushed over the edge creating the Fire fall. Sounds safe 🙈 You can see behind the scenes on my instagram story 😉 – – – – —————————————————–⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @canonusa 📷 Shot Info 📷 Canon 5d Mark IV Lens: 24-70mm Manual Mode Shutter . . . . 1/8 sec Aperture: F10 ISO: 100 WB auto RAW —————————————————- ⠀ #yosemite #yosemite_national_park #rawcalifornia #wildcalifornia #teamcanon #canon_photos #feedbacknation #watchthisinstagood #optoutside #global_hotshotz #liveoutdoors #estheticlabel #nature #landscape #photographer #exklusive_shot #ig_sharepoint #way2ill #dream_image #theimaged #main_vision #conquer_ca #westcoast_exposures #canonbringit #moodygrams #agameoftones #heatercentral #folkvibe #abc30insider #ig_color

A post shared by R A N D Y H A R O N (@2ndfloorguy) on


Happy Valentine's Day- repost: this was the photo I captures on feb 13,2016 of the horsetailfall #firefall #yosemitenps #yosemiteconservancy that went viral worldwide. I thought it would be appropriate to share it again on Valentine's Day since Mother Nature gave us a great show last year with the heart shaped mist. There is still time to witness this natural phenomenon but only if weather permits. – – – #hot_shotz #wowshot #amazingphotohunter #globe_travel #igrepresent #ig_eurasia #fotogulumse #ig_photostars #igglobalclub #phototag_it #mekaanim #gununfotografi #igs_america #nature_of_the_world #worldprime #hubs_united #superb_earthpix #superhubs #ig_ikeda #nationalparkgeek #abc7eyewitness #cnnireport #yesweather #nature_waterfalls

A post shared by Ray (@rayophotography13) on


If you want to go and see this, and want to get the best view of the dreamy spectacle for yourself next year, Yosemite’s Park rangers suggest that  “the most convenient and frequently shot view of Horsetail Fall is at the El Capitan picnic area, approximately 1.7 miles (2.7km) past Yosemite Lodge at the Falls on Northside Drive.” Better start saving up now then!

Find the falls at: Horsetail Fall, California, USA 


Want more pretty photos? Check out these beautiful photos that will restore your faith in America