Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Valley's Horsetail Fall Is a ‘Fire'-Bright Wonder

The wondrous waterfall will again shimmer with sunlight, if the weather is just right, over several February evenings.

HorsetailFall-Yosemite-sm
Jason Shaw, US Dept. of Interoir

What to Know

  • The late-afternoon glow shows will begin around Feb. 10, 2022, per the National Park Service, with a wrap on Feb. 28; reservations aren't necessary, but there is a fee to enter Yosemite National Park
  • The setting sun shines upon the towering fall, giving it a fire-like brightness (though no actual fire is involved)
  • Overcast skies, and other factors, can impact the astonishing, limited-time sight

THE SUN? It performs so many important life-giving, attitude-enhancing, mood-raising favors for we earthlings, and we don't even need to text it daily reminders, or offer year-end reviews, or provide the gargantuan star any constructive feedback. We can see the results of this giant's generous gifts all around us, from the crops that grow to the water that flows. In short? You could say the sun has doted upon the Solar System's blue planet, in countless critical ways, each and every day for, well, millenia. Sometimes, though, some solar surrealness is swirled into the sun's remarkable repertoire, and humans are treated to something rather special, if only for a short while. And one of the prime examples of the large star putting on a bit of a fancy show happens in the latter part of February each year, in Yosemite National Park, when Horsetail Fall begins to shimmer.

THAT SHIMMER... happens as the sun begins to set, and the final rays of the day reach the fall's falling water. Sunlight on any waterfall is an eternally uplifting sight, it is true, but the position of the sun over several February afternoons, plus the fortuitous location of Horsetail Fall, plus the perfect viewing spot down below, can create real earth magic. And that magic? Catch your breath and make a wish: The fall becomes fiery, though only in appearance (real flames are not involved). Of course, there are caveats, like the weather, for clouds have a definite knack for throwing a literal damper on the light-lovely phenomenon. And here we go: Feb. 10 is the expected 2022 start date of the Horsetail Fall spectacular, while the final day of February is the last day to enjoy this ethereal experience, says the National Park Service.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW? This sight is on many a bucket list, and gotta-see-it-once round-ups, or those hope-filled rosters where dreamers record the natural wonders they'd love to behold in person. In short? Plenty of people make for Yosemite in late February to soak in the sun-meets-water wonder-a-tude. You'll want to read all of the NPS tips on visiting, including where to park and where to go to see the show, if the clouds vamoose and conditions are perfect.

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