Yosemite National Park in California is Home to the World’s Most Spectacular ‘Burning Waterfall’


As a child, did your fantasies ever include a ‘lavafall’? Molten lava flowing amidst mountains, illuminating not just the entire locale but the skies as well? We were completely bowled over when we realized that such an extraordinary wonder is real. The Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada, California, houses one of the unique wonders of the world – Horsetail Fall (Burning Waterfall). Also known as the Yosemite Firefall, the Horsetail Fall – one of the best tourist attractions in California, looks like molten lava flowing down from the top of El Captain Mountain, as it lights up the skies as well as the faces of people.

Yosemite National Park, California, Yosemite firefall, burning waterfall in california, Horsetail Fall, Ribbon Fall
Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Hager/Hager Photography via Getty Images

What is Horsetail Fall?

Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall (Burning waterfall) is just a regular waterfall that turns orange or red owing to optical illusion on select days of the year, making it one of the must-visit tourist hotspots in California. Around the second week of February, the setting sun hits the Horsetail Fall at just the exact angle and illuminates the upper reaches of the waterfall. On occasions when the atmospheric conditions are perfect, Yosemite Firefall glows orange and red, as it gives away the feel of watching molten lava cascading from the top. Should it not be on your list of must-visit tourist attractions in 2020?

Best Time to See Horsetail Fall

The first and foremost condition is that the Horsetail Fall (Burning waterfall) must be flowing. In case, there is not enough snowpack in February, there are chances the snow completely melts before you get to see the Firefall. Similarly, the temperature must be warm enough for the snow to melt. However, if the temperature is too cold, the snow stays frozen and alas! You won’t get to see the Firefall. Consequently, in the month of October, the snow stays frozen owing to the drop in temperature and there is no runoff. That’s why you don’t get to see this magical phenomenon even when the sun rays hit the Yosemite Valley at the same angle.

Secondly, it requires a clear sky at sunset. If the sky is cloudy, the sun rays will be blocked and, oh dear! You won’t be able to witness the Firefall in spite of the water flowing down El Captain. 

However, if Lady Luck favors you and the conditions are just right, you will be able to witness the Horsetail Fall glowing blood red and lighting up the locale for about 10 minutes. This is a once-in-a-lifetime supernatural and breathtaking experience – the burning waterfall in California.

The word about Yosemite Firefall (Burning waterfall) spread like wildfire after Galen Rowell, a wilderness photographer, took the first-known photograph of the glowing Horsetail Fall. A tourist hotspot in California – the Horsetail waterfall descends in two streams side by side; the larger one on the eastern side drops 1,540 feet while the smaller one drops 1,570 feet. When flowing, the Horsetail Fall is the highest fully airborne waterfall in Yosemite, after the Ribbon Fall which drops 1,612 feet.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here