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Central California Life Magazine

Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall Glows Like Lava Only Once a Year

Feb 20, 2017 02:58PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Image courtesy of

The Natural Firefall is one of Yosemite National Park's most mesmerizing natural phenomenas. Each year, around the second week of February, Horsetail Falls glows like lava at sunset. However, this only happens if conditions are just right, otherwise the falls don't emanate their unique red and orange glow. (See last year's in a video below)

Hundreds of people each year gather to see this fiery spectacle. The falls, if the sun hits it just right, looks like lava is pouring from the mountain. The 1,570 foot drop is along the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, making it quiet a sight to behold. 

A big part of the success of the natural firefall at Horsetail Falls is water flow. If the snow hasn't melted, or it's been a dryer season, there won't be enough water flowing to cause the illumination. 

Weather also needs to be clear. Once the sun begins setting, there is only about ten minutes of time where the sun hits them just right and they glow. 

According to, "It's a small waterfall that many people don't notice, but it has gained popularity as more and more people have noticed it can glow orange during sunset in mid- to late February, in a way reminiscent of the Firefall that occurred historically from Glacier Point." 

To learn more about parking and the best places to view the falls, you can visit

To learn more about this amazing natural spectacle, you can visit, or

Horsetail Fall - Yosemite National Park, February 2016