Here's How to See the Famous Yosemite 'Firefall' This Year

There are limited tickets to reserve this year.

The Yosemite "firefall" is a rare and spectacular phenomenon where the setting sun illuminates Horsetail Falls in Yosemite National Park, causing it to look like flowing lava. With the 2021 firefall season now upon us, there are a few things you should know before trying to catch a glimpse.

When will the Yosemite firefall be visible this year?

The firefall only appears for a few days in late February, and only if specific conditions are met: there has to be enough snow in February to feed the waterfall, daytime temperatures must be warm enough to melt the packed snow, and the sky must be clear at sunset to let the sun rays in.

This year, the sun will align with Horsetail Falls for about 10 minutes each evening between February 12 and February 24, according to the National Park Service and If the aforementioned conditions are met, this is when you'll get to see the waterfall turn orange.

In 2020, the firefall didn't make an appearance at all due to unusually dry winter weather. This year, experts are more optimistic that you'll be able to see Horsetail Falls glow. That is, of course, if you can get a ticket.

MORE: The Most Beautiful Places in Yosemite National Park

DTM Media/shutterstock

How do people get tickets to see the Yosemite firefall?

To keep people safe in the midst of the pandemic, Yosemite is currently requiring every vehicle that enters the park to have a day-use pass, and there are a limited number of passes to go around. If you want a shot at seeing the firefall this year, you'll have to plan carefully and act fast when the moment arises.

A small number of day-use passes are available to purchase two days in advance. If you want to arrive at the park on Monday, February 22, for example, you would have to reserve a pass on Saturday, February 20. You'll have to be prompt, though: Limited tickets are released on each morning at 8 am PT and they are all claimed within minutes.

If you're lucky enough to snag a day-use pass, you'll be allowed entry into the park and given information on where to find the best views of the firefall.

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.