Firefall lights up Yosemite National Park like a dragon

"Like fire in a frozen kingdom." Horsetail Fall in Yosemite turns to flame for a few brief moments during sunset.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

Photographer Sangeeta Dey caught this snowy view of the Yosemite firefall.

Sangeeta Dety

In February every year, Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park lights up like it's starring in an episode of Game of Thrones

When conditions are just right, the water reflects the sunset's orange glow and looks like it's on fire. We're now in the middle of the 2019 firefall season and the images are spectacular. 

This was photographer Sangeeta Dey's third time visiting the firefall. "This year, the flow of waterfall was less due to freezing temperatures," Dey says. "Nonetheless, it was one of the most beautiful ones I have seen because of surrounding snow. It felt like fire in a frozen kingdom."

Horsetail Fall descends off the east side Yosemite's famous El Capitan formation. It typically flows from December through April.  

Dey explains the draw of seeing the firefall in person: "This is like watching magic happen, something you would see in an Indiana Jones movie, but here it is for real. I have to come back every year to see it and remind myself how incredible our nature is."

Photographer Eric Rubens describes his experience as "a day I'll never forget." His view of the fall shows a molten stream of light cascading downward.

While most firefall images focus on gorgeous landscape views, Lightsparq Photography gives us a different perspective on Instagram by showing just how many people are packed in trying to capture the perfect picture.

Parking rules for 2019 mean photographers have to slog at least a mile through the snow in very cold conditions. Lightsparq reported tackling a 3-mile trek with slippery paths, all to experience the 10-minute phenomenon.

The firefall could still appear for a few more days this month, but there are no guarantees. "Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect," according to the Yosemite website. Those who witness it can consider themselves fortunate.

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