Yosemite’s Rare Glowing ‘Firefall’ Returns Unexpectedly After Atmospheric River

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

Yosemite’s Rare Glowing ‘Firefall’ Returns Unexpectedly After Atmospheric River

Yosemite National Park’s Horsetail Fall is famous for a rare “firefall” phenomenon in which sunlight hits the water just right to make it look like liquid fire is pouring down the mountain. SFGATE reported that the firefall appeared for a few fleeting moments this week as a result of the atmospheric river. SF-based nature photographer Scott Oller took trip to Yosemite on the chance that the recent rains might reward him with a firefall, and the gamble paid off!

The firefall is known to happen every year from mid to late February, for a few fleeting moments, if the conditions are exactly right. The Horsetail waterfalls take on a glowing, fiery orange color to reflect the setting sun. For this to happen though, the temperatures need to be within a certain range, so that there’s a sufficient amount of snow and water flowing. Additionally, the skies need to be perfectly clear so nothing interferes with the rays of light which makes it quite a rare sight indeed.

Oller told SFGATE that you may still be able to see the unexpected October firefall, although the window for ideal conditions is coming to a close this weekend. In order to get his amazing pictures, Oller only had a fleeting 15-minute window. “For 15 minutes, horsetail fall glowed in fiery hues, framed by foliage of the same colors. It actually happened,” wrote Oller on Instagram.


If you’re hoping to catch the Yosemite Firefall in February, just make sure to make a reservation at recreation.gov, because park passes during the highly-anticipated event book out months in advance!


Featured image: Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash  

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