Interesting facts about Horsetail Falls

horsetail falls

Horsetail Fall is located in Yosemite National Park in California.

It falls off of the east side of El Capitan – the largest exposed granite monolith in the world.

It is a seasonal waterfall that flows in the winter and early spring.

This waterfall descends in two streams side by side.

The eastern one drops 470 meters (1,540 feet), and the western one 480 meters (1,570 feet).

The waters then gather and descend another 150 meters (490 ft) on steep slabs, so the total height of these waterfalls is 620 meters (2,030 feet) to 630 meters (2,070 feet).

Around the second week of February, the setting sun hits Horsetail Fall at just the right angle to illuminate the upper reaches of the waterfall. And when conditions are perfect, Horsetail Fall glows
orange and red at sunset.

This natural phenomenon is often referred to as the “Firefall“, one of nature’s rarest phenomena.

If conditions are not perfect, the Firefall will not glow.

The western sky must be clear at sunset. If it’s snowing, raining, or even just cloudy, the sun’s rays willbe blocked and Horsetail Falls will not light up.

If there’s not enough snowpack in February, there will not be enough snowmelt to feed the waterfall.

Also temperatures must be warm enough during the day to melt the snowpack.

If everything comes together and conditions are just right, the Firefall will light up for about ten minutes.

horsetail falls yosemite

Hundreds of spectators gather in Yosemite to witness this amazing event.

The Awahneechee Indians, who lived in Yosemite Valley for hundreds of years, most likely knew of itsexistence, but there is no evidence they passed this information on to white settlers.

Photographer Galen Rowell took the first-known photograph of the Firefall in 1973 , which greatly increased its fame among landscape photographers and Yosemite aficionados.

But it wasn’t until the digital photography revolution and the rise of internet that the Firefall achieved global fame.