Tuesday, September 26, 2023


New rules to view Yosemite’s firefall

If you want to look at the annual firefall phenomenon at Horsetail Fall in Yosemite this month you need to be aware of a few new restrictions.

The firefall is a natural phenomenon that causes the light from the setting sun to reflect off Horsetail Fall, making the water appear as if it’s glowing in vibrant, fire-like hues—and occurs for about two weeks every February if the circumstances are just right.

Expected dates this year are between February 10–28. A few new restrictions will be in place from noon to 7 p.m. during that window due to the popularity of the phenomenon, which has caused crowding and environmental damage in recent years.

Visitors will be encouraged to park in the lot just west of Yosemite Valley Lodge, which is about 1.5 miles from the viewing area for the waterfall that cascades over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Alternatively, parking will be available at Yosemite Village and Curry Village, and a free shuttle will also be on site to transport guests to the viewing area. Southside Drive will still be open to vehicles, but parking, stopping, and unloading passengers is prohibited.

The area between the Sentinel Beach and Cathedral Beach picnic areas will be closed to all entry. On particularly busy weekends, Northside Drive may close entirely after sunset. Guests will be required to wear masks, and flashlights are encouraged.

To take a look at the firefall and get some tips on how to photograph this rare event, go here.


Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


  1. I’m glad that the NPS is taking steps to protect Yosemite. It’s in danger of being loved to death. I haven’t been in February since I figured it would be too crowded but it sounds like it might not be that bad.

    I wonder how many of the people who say they won’t go because of the mask rule had ever planned to go there or live anywhere within 1,000 miles of Yosemite? At any rate, Yosemite gets overcrowded so a few less people would be a good thing.

  2. Restrictions are totally worth it! Just saw it. The secret is go on a weekday and get a spot early. Look for where the photographers are with the pricey cameras for the best spot.
    And we did not wear masks outside.
    It was magical.

  3. Wearing a mask outdoors? Omg , i won’t be there. Good,more room for people that take precautions and would rather not take a chance with their health. Before the pandemic you’d see on TV thousands of people,especially in China wearing masks because of poor air quality. No mandates, just good common sense.

  4. OK so…you have to park a mile and a half away from where you can see it, but there should be a free shuttle to take you there.

    Where you have to wear a mask. Outside.



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