Falls On Fire

At sunset in the middle of February if conditions are right the waterfall looks like it is on fire. Actually it looks more like molten lava flowing over El Capitan, a mountain in Yosemite National Park. Every year more and more photographers try to capture the magic of the falls as they pour off the granite cliff.

The picture above is Glacier Falls when embers from a man-made fire are sent over the edge of Glacier Point in the same area. It is a beautiful sight for a summer night.

But in February the sun and the earth are aligned in such a way that at just the right time the light from the sun will hit the granite behind the waterfall. The rays reflect through the water making it look like red-hot lava flowing down the mountain.

Horsetail Falls is the longest free-falling waterfall in Yosemite. It falls 1500 feet, then hits granite and spills over another 500 feet. The falls drain a small area atop El Capitan. It drains only in the winter and spring IF there has been enough snow and rain. This has been a dry year but hopefully there will be enough water to fall. It takes very little to allow the red effect.

Weather conditions have to be right too. The sky must be clear and this is the time of year when the cloud cover could cause problems.

So photographers are gathering. They are hoping for clear skies. Then if they are lucky they might capture the two minutes at sunset that will make Horsetail Falls look like a cascade of fire.



  1. One of the most beautiful parks I have ever explored.

    1. Have you seen the red effect on the falls? I've never managed to see it.

  2. i love Yosemite, I miss it, but have never been there in February, thanks for sharing this information.

    1. I guess you and I will have to keep trying then, won't we?

  3. This is the image of Horse Tail Falls. These are the most beautiful falls in Yosemite National Park where I visited before boston to washington dc tours. The best time to visit these falls are February because in this month, the water of these falls reelect two color because of sun, one is red and second orange. That’s why people call these falls, fire falls.


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