Rare Yosemite ‘Firefall’ Phenomenon Transforms a Waterfall into Flowing Lava

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The month of February is a magical time of year to be in Yosemite National Park. For just a short few days, a natural phenomenon called a firefall is visible at Horsetail Fall on the eastern edge of El Capitan. During this time, Mother Nature plays a visual trick on us and makes the famous waterfall look as though it’s on fire. From some angles, it appears that lava is spewing over the cliff.

So, how does a firefall happen? It’s not always a given—the environmental conditions have to be just right. For one, there must be ample snow available for the waterfall to flow. A clear sky is also a necessity; even the slightest haze will mar the amazing effect. When the precipitation and skies are working together, all that's needed is a precise light from the setting sun to send Horsetail Fall ablaze.

Luckily, the 2019 Yosemite firefall did not disappoint. Lasting no more than 10 minutes, hundreds of visitors to Horsetail Fall witnessed the spectacular sight. For those of us that couldn’t be there, many folks shared their photographs on Instagram. Check out the firefall, below.

For a few magical days in February, those visiting Yosemite National Park can witness the Yosemite firefall at Horsetail Fall.

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A firefall is a natural phenomenon that makes it appear as though lava is spewing from the eastern edge of El Capitan.

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Hundreds of people witnessed the firefall this year. Here are some of the spectacular images.

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h/t: [Travel + Leisure]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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