Yosemite Park Officials Just Made it More Difficult to See the Horsetail Falls ‘Firefall’

Yosemite National Park officials have been inundated with crowds during the past few February’s due to the growing popularity of the Horsetail Falls “Firefall,” and now they are making it more difficult to see the natural phenomenon.

Adventure seekers and photographers are preparing to flock to Yosemite National Park, trekking through the mounds of snow to see a natural phenomenon that is only visible during two weeks out of the year. But Yosemite recently announced that two of the three main access points to see the natural phenomenon will been closed, undoubtedly creating more crowds and less diverse photography emerging from the popular event.

This will create a different experience for photographers flocking to the event, who will now have to hike up to 3 miles to see the firefall in person. Yosemite officials believe it will help them control the crowds. Here is their officials statement:

Due to the popularity of the event, restrictions will be in effect from February 14 through 27, 2020 daily from noon to 7 pm. To view Horsetail Fall, park at Yosemite Falls parking (just west of Yosemite Valley Lodge) and walk 1.5 miles (each way) to the viewing area near El Capitan Picnic Area. Vault toilets, along with trash and recycling dumpsters, are available at the picnic area. Northside Drive will have one lane closed to vehicles so pedestrians can walk on the road between the viewing area and Yosemite Falls parking. Bring warm clothes and a headlamp or flashlight. Parking, stopping, or unloading passengers will be prohibited between Camp 4 and El Capitan Crossover. Vehicles displaying a disability placard will be allowed to drive to El Capitan Picnic Area and park in turnouts on the north side of Northside Drive.

Southside Drive will be open to vehicles, but parking, stopping, and unloading passengers will be prohibited between El Capitan Crossover to Swinging Bridge Picnic Area. Pedestrians will also be prohibited from traveling on or adjacent to the road in this area. From Cathedral Beach Picnic Area to Sentinel Beach Picnic Area, the area between the road and the Merced River (including the river) will also be closed to all entry.

El Capitan Crossover (the road connecting Northside and Southside Drives near El Capitan) will be open to vehicles, but parking, stopping, and unloading passengers will be prohibited.

Historically, the sunset backlight on Horsetail Fall was little known. However, in recent years, visitation around this event has increased dramatically. For example, on February 22, 2019, over 2,000 visitors viewing Horsetail Fall gathered in areas mostly lacking adequate parking and other facilities. Visitors spilled onto riverbanks, increasing erosion and trampling vegetation. As riverbanks filled, visitors moved into the Merced River, trampling sensitive vegetation and exposing themselves to unsafe conditions. Some undeveloped areas became littered with trash, and the lack of restrooms resulted in unsanitary conditions.

Horsetail Fall is typically not that unique in Yosemite, where waterfalls are vast and beautiful. It’s a somewhat low-flow waterfall that flows about 1,000 feet down off the eastern edge of El Capitan to the ground. But when the water flows are strong and the lighting is right, this waterfall lights up and appears to be on fire. This phenomenon typically appears for about two weeks near the end of February and can cause quite the tourist attraction for people looking for a rare view.

It remains to be seen exactly when the natural phenomenon will occur in February and how long it will last, but the hype is beginning to build in NorCal. The event in 2019 was one for the ages. Typically, the event draws thousands of people to the park, no matter the weather in Yosemite.

Here are a few of the best photos and videos from 2019:

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Dancing Fire 🔥 It’s almost that time of the year again! When I first moved to the Bay Area I remember coming across an article about the “Firefall” phenomenon and wondering to myself if I would ever have a chance to witness it in person. Through a series of small serendipities, I somehow managed to catch Firefall my first and only trip to Yosemite so far two years ago. We originally chose this particular weekend thinking it’d be too early for Firefall and going earlier to avoid the usual craziness during this period. A photographer we came across during sunrise mentioned Firefall might be happening due to the clear sky conditions. We kept that in mind but almost passed up on the opportunity when we were adamant about searching for some epic puddle reflections. Thankfully we missed our turn (Yosemite Valley is a one way street) and then saw a large number of photographers assembled in one area. “It must be happening!” And so we abandoned reflection hunting and camped out with everyone. Best decision made ever. What unexpected adventures or experiences have you had so far? Check out my new blog post (link in profile) for a guide to shooting Firefall. . . . . #wildbayarea #wildcalifornia #visitcalifornia #passionpassport #bucketlisters #sonyimages #sonyalpha #tlpicks #awesomeearth #GS10k #instagood10k #creative_ace #cc5k #visualmobs #theimaged #shotzdelight #aov5k #omd_5k #creativeoptic #ourcolourdays #fatalframes10k #moods_in_frame #vol10k #visualambassadors #discoverer #earth_shotz #heatercentral #gramslayers

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