Want to see Yosemite’s famous firefall? Plan to visit in the next few weeks

Jan 24, 2020

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It’s always a good time to visit Yosemite, but the next few weeks will be an especially good time to travel to this national park in California.

The reason? Yosemite’s annual firefall.

Firefall is an eye-catching optical illusion that, when a few conditions sync up perfectly, make Horsetail Fall appear to be on fire.

For starters, the angle of the light at sunset has to strike perfectly — and it only happens during the months of February and October. The weather must be very clear, and plenty of water needs to flow over the rocks, which may not happen during a particularly dry winter.

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If this near-perfect alignment happens, the waterfall will be transformed into a river of fire.

It’s impossible to guarantee that the firefall phenomenon will happen this year, but Sunset reported that the first week of February looks pretty promising.

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If you’re lucky enough to be in Yosemite if and when the firefall occurs, the El Capitan picnic area is one of your best bets for a good view. Just note you won’t be able to park there. Northside Drive is another good choice, though again, you can’t park — or even stop — in this area. You may want to drop your car and spend the night at Yosemite Valley Lodge, though it’s at least a mile away from the good viewing points.

No matter where you park, be sure to pack comfortable sneakers or hiking boots; a camera and maybe even a chair. And you’ll need plenty of patience to withstand those crowds.

Firefall or no firefall, you can never go wrong with a trip to Yosemite, or any one of the stunning national parks around the country. Summer will be here before you know it, and that’s prime time for a visit to the park (or parks!) you’ve had on your to-do list. Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to hotels near national parks you can book with points.

Featured image courtesy of Xin Wang/Getty Images.

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