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You can only see this amazing "firefall" at Yosemite once a year

You can only see this amazing "firefall" at Yosemite once a year
Photograph: Shutterstock

It’s time again for the annual appearance of Yosemite’s “firefall,” and while that may sound like the name of a band that’s landed a gig in America’s most iconic national park, it’s not: Firefall is the moniker for a natural phenomenon that transpires every year for two weeks in mid-February at the park’s Horsetail Falls near the El Capitan mountain (beloved of free solo climbers immune to self-preservation) in Yosemite Valley, California.

Thanks to its angle at that time of the year, the light at sunset passes through the water as it cascades over the falls, illuminating it with an orange glow that makes it appear to be erupting like molten lava. (Yosemite happens to lie over a massive super-volcano, which is long overdue to blow its top, so, you know, the real thing could happen some day.)

The resulting sight is both surreal and spectacular, but it depends on clear skies and enough snowmelt to provide water. As you might expect, firefall attracts throngs of visitors, and the Park does impose daily restrictions on crowd size from noon to 7pm. This year’s event transpires from February 12 to February 28th, with the best time for viewing on February 22nd between 5:28 and 5:40 PM.

If you’re spending the night, you might want to try bedding down in one of the cool Conestoga wagons at Yosemite Pines RV Resort and Family Lodging. And while you’re visiting, don't forget all the other accommodations, libations and destinations you can find in the park.

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