Photographers Swarm Yosemite For Spectacular ‘Firefall’ Phenomenon

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (CBS SF) — An annual pilgrimage by amateur and professional photographers to Yosemite National Park to capture a unique solar lighting effect has been revived with the recent wet weather.

For a couple of weeks in February, Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall gets bathed in the light of the setting sun, creating what is known as a “firefall,” with the waterfall and wet rockface creating an orange glow from the reflection.

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In recent years, a lack of water or cloudy weather has meant the spectacular effect does not appear during the brief window when the sun is aligned perfectly on the fall.

This year, images of the firefall at Horsetail Fall has blanketed social media.

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The history of the Yosemite Firefall began with a manmade firefall in the last 19th century, when a campfire at the top of Glacier Point was pushed over the edge of the cliff, treating spectators below to a fiery spectacle. It became an annual event that increased in size and popularity, until it was finally discontinued in 1968.

In 1973, close to the 100-year anniversary of the first Yosemite Firefall, a photographer captured the first known photo of the natural firefall at Horsetail Fall.


Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.

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