Glowing Horsetail Falls at Yosemite National Park returns February 12-26, conditions permitting

Photos from the National Park Service

It’s that time of year again when the glowing ribbon of Horsetail Fall returns to the east face of El Capitan at Yosemite National Park for two weeks when the sky is clear and enough snow fell to allow the water to flow. If all goes well, you can see the spectacular 1,570-foot orange or red fiery effect for about 10 minutes around sunset.

Visiting this natural phenomenon is popular, so the park will be crowded. To control the traffic, the National Park Service is closing Northside Drive between Yosemite Valley Lodge and El Capitan Crossover to unpermitted private vehicular access and parking February 12-26.


Permits for parking are free but limited. To get one, arrive early at the Ansel Adams Gallery. At least 50 permits will be distributed each day starting at 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

Or park at the Yosemite Falls day parking or El Capitan Meadow and ride the free shuttle to Stop 7. From there, you’ll need to walk 1.2 miles each way to the viewing area for Horsetail Fall.

The best option is to take a two-hour guided bus tour with a naturalist who talks about the park’s history, Horsetail Fall, and the Glacier Point Firefall. The firefall was a tradition in Yosemite’s early years, when the embers of a roaring bonfire was thrown off Glacier Point to create a “waterfall of fire”. The tradition ended in 1968.

The bus stops at a viewpoint where you can see the waterfall and take pictures.

These tours depart Yosemite Valley Lodge at 4:30 p.m. daily February 12-26. Tickets cost $29 for adults, $28 for seniors, and $20 for children 5 to 15 years old. Buy tickets in advance by calling (888) 304-8993 or in person at the Yosemite Valley Lodge Tour Desk.

Visit the Horsetail Fall page for more information.


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