Yosemite National Park

Yosemite's ‘Glowfall' to Shine, but Visitor Restrictions Are in Place

The annual show, a late-February wonder, has a number of restrictions this year. Also? You'll need a reservation to enter the national park.


What to Know

  • Feb. 12-24, 2021 (weather permitting)
  • Reservations are required to enter Yosemite National Park; there are exceptions to day-use reservations, for camping or lodging, so read all
  • Restrictions (parking, unloading, stopping) will be observed from Feb. 12-24, 2021

SNOWFALL OR GLOWFALL? Visitors to Yosemite National Park just might see both during the month of February. Snowfall, of course, is what happens when the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and flakes begin to tumble down from the cold sky above. But "glowfall"? You'll have to head to a particular part of the famous valley, on a particular night, and hope that cloud cover isn't obscuring the show. For here's what we mean when we talk about witnessing glowfall in Yosemite: When the setting sun shines upon the falling water of Horsetail Fall, one of the valley's iconic sights, on a late February afternoon, the H2O can seem to glow.

"GLOW LIKE FIRE"... is a more poetic way to put it, perhaps, even if an actual firefall, an attraction that popped up in Yosemite Valley decades ago, isn't involved. But shimmer the fall certainly does, if everything aligns perfectly in terms of light, water, and weather. It's an annual event that draws a lot of people, but the "a lot" part is changing up in 2021, understandably. For while Yosemite National Park will be open to visitors during Horsetail Fall's "fiery" run, there are some safety updates to note.

NUMBER ONE? Reservations are necessary to enter the park, so you'll need to line up your entry in advance (here are the exceptions). Important to know? There will be restrictions involving lane closures, parking, unloading, and more, so you'll want to read up on all of the details. If you do procure a reservation during the Feb. 12-24 window, best study this map, which gives a clear view as to what restrictions to expect once you're in the area where the fall can be observed.

SOMETHING TO HOPE FOR? Even if you're delaying this bucket-list-y visit for another year, know that this is a sun-meets-water wonder that has happened for eons and it still has eons to go. With that heartening thought in mind, you can begin planning all of your still-to-come adventures involving a visit to Yosemite, chilly February afternoons, and a spectacular glow that can only be seen during fabulous fortnight each year. This is a good place to make the initial splash, planning-wise, waterfall fans.

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