How to see Yosemite’s Firefall in 2023 How to see Yosemite’s Firefall in 2023

It’s that time of year when thousands gather for a rare glimpse of Yosemite National Park’s lava-like waterfall. Here we tell you where it is, when it should happen, and how to get there…
10 February 2023

Firefall season is back for 2023, and yet again photographers and nature-lovers are gearing up for the annual spectacle at Yosemite National Park.

For those who don’t know, the ‘firefall’ may look like a stream of lava pouring down the side of Yosemite’s towering rock formation, however this optical illusion is caused by the evening sunlight shining on the waterflow, illuminating the falls in a florescent orange. It occurs between mid- to late February every year, if the conditions are right.

The once little-known event now attracts thousands of visitors, with nearly 2,000 people flocking to the Firefall back in 2019. Its growing popularity has meant some restrictions have been put in place. Read on the find out more.

Where is Yosemite’s Firefall?

The Firefall takes place at Horsetail Fall on the eastern side of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Visitors are asked to wrap up warm and wear a mask.

Horsetail Falls glowing bright orange (Shutterstock)

When is Yosemite’s Firefall taking place in 2023?

The event takes place mid- to late February, just moments before the sun sets. According to the National Park Service, Yosemite’s Firefall is predicted to emerge between the 10-28 February in 2023. Landscape photographer Aaron Meyers has forecast the optimum times for viewing the spectacle between 5.28pm and 5.40pm, varying in prime time on different dates.

The dazzling light display is not guaranteed, however. Conditions must be exactly right, with a clear evening sky and the waterfall flowing from recently melted snow or rain.

Do I need a reservation?

In 2023, reservations are required on certain dates to avoid traffic congestion, parking issues and also to protect the natural and cultural resources at the National Park, even if not wanting to visit Horsetail Fall. It is recomeended for visitors to arrive late morning to early afternoon. 

How to get to Yosemite’s Firefall

Visitors are advised to park at Yosemite Falls, or if full, head to Yosemite Village or Curry Village and hop on a shuttle service. Once arrived, head to El Capitan Picnic Area for your chance to glimpse the glowing wonder.

For more information, head to the Yosemite National Park’s official website

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