Fire fall is a phenomenon that occurs in Yosemite National Park during the last 2 weeks of February up to the 1st week of March. It is when the Sun lines up just perfectly with Horsetail Falls (at East Side of El Capitan). While sunlight illuminates the waterfalls the water looks like a glowing lava.
This is our 3rd time to capture the event but this is the best, some says this is one of the best the within 4 years which condition have been perfect, it got the water (sometimes there’s none) and a good clear sunset. In the recent years we’ve been here, lack of water from the falls and cloudy weather is not that great. But this year we are lucky to witness this rare phenomenon. We were there to spend a 3day weekend just to photograph this event. And of course a lot of photographers and guest were there too, because Yosemite is just near San Francisco, Central Valley and Los Angeles, and it’s all over the news.
There are a number of location where you can view this event , South Drive and the North Drive. We arrived in one of the photographers’ favorite spot around 1pm, just to secure a parking near the spot, or else you’ll be parked 1-2 mile away or so. The South Drive designated parking and prime view of the falls at the side of the river were already full by 9amand in the mid- afternoon cars were park bumper to bumper (literally) and the late comers parked on a second row next to the designated parking, some others were parked in the forest area (illegal parking). Almost every possible spot where you can take photos of the Horsetail Falls were jam-packed with people and tripods. The North Drive, El Capitan Picnic ground was also crowded, but a little bit better than the South Drive. Some people were in the Picnic mode, barbecuing, and people just tend to socialize with each other. Every tripod here were pointing upwards and does not bother anyone in front of the other.
Sunset starts around 5:30pm and on the last few minutes everybody were fascinated when the waterfalls start glowing. People are clapping, yelling during the start of the show. And for about 5 minutes you will hear the cameras clicking. We were just thrilled to finally get this chance after trying it for years.
After sunset, and everyone wants to go home or to be in their rooms/cabins, cars congested the roads exiting the park. It took us an hour to get out, and even drove the longer way, just not to be caught in a dead-end traffic.
1. Get to your spot (South Drive or North Drive)at least 4hours early.
2. Bring folding chair
3. Bring snacks
4. And be sure you have a jacket to keep you warm.
5. Lastly, bring a lot of “Respect to others” and “Tons of patience”.
Good luck for next year’s event 🙂 see you!!