Junior Reporter: Yosemite Firefall

April 16, 2021

Earlier this year, Xyza Junior Reporter Lauren O. visited Yosemite National Park for a very specific reason: to witness something that happens only once a year. Check out what she thinks you should add to your list of sites to see if you ever find yourself visiting Yosemite National Park in late February!

Yosemite Firefall

By Lauren O.

Junior Reporter Lauren O. in Yosemite.

The firefall of 2020 wasn’t so great, due to the inconvenient drought in 2019. So, even with the COVID-19 worries and precautions, our family decided to visit the firefall in 2021 in hope that this year would be better. It was. After trying to find the best spot in a crowd of people with the same goal in mind, we finally found it. We stared dubiously at the shining white falls. That’s when the magic started to happen. Murmurs rippled through the crowd of watching people as the white water started to glow like molten gold. The snapping of photos filled the air as everyone tried to capture this beautiful moment forever. We cheered as the fall glowed from yellow to gold to red. The moment only lasted ten minutes, but it was enough to be imprinted in our memories forever.

Firefall at Yosemite National Park

So, how did this happen? Well, some factors have to be in place in order for this to happen. For starters, there needs to be plenty of snow to melt and actually create enough water for the falls to glow. And since you can’t have water from snow without snowmelt, conditions have to be warm enough as well. The sun needs to be at the exact point, and there can’t be cloudy conditions, otherwise the sun’s light won’t be able to light up the falls. And you can’t see it at any time of day. It only happens at sunset at the exact point when the sun’s rays hit the falls. This firefall, otherwise known as Horsetail Falls, is truly a great wonder. If you’re going to Yosemite during late February, definitely add it to your to-do list!