Yosemite Firefall: Horsetail Fall’s Natural Firefall | BeCause Tees

Yosemite Firefall: From Man-Made Event to a Natural Firefall

Have you heard of the Yosemite Firefall? What began as a stunning display of fiery embers cascading down the granite cliffs of Yosemite Valley from the late 1800s until the mid-20th century is something different in modern times. Find out how this phenomenon went from man-made to a natural version!

Yosemite Firefall: Horsetail Fall

Yosemite Firefall: the Origins

The Firefall was originally started by James McCauley, owner of the Glacier Point Mountain House Hotel in the late 1800s. He began pushing glowing embers from bonfires over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a fiery cascade that was visible from miles away. Over time, the Firefall became a nightly ritual at the hotel, and many visitors would gather to watch the spectacle. 

This man-made event wowed millions of visitors from the late 1800s until the mid-1900s. The Firefall was a nightly ritual at the Glacier Point Hotel, and visitors would book their stays specifically to witness the spectacle.

Yosemite Firefall: Environmental Concerns

After the end of World War 2, concerns over the impact of the Firefall on the environment were raised. After being reinstated for a while after the war due to public pressure for it to return, 1968 saw the final end to the man-made Yosemite Firefall. The National Park Service put a final stop to the Firefall due to concerns over the potential damage to the ecosystem and the risk of wildfires.

Yosemite Firefall: Horsetail Fall's Natural Firefall

A Natural Firefall

Today, whilst the Firefall is no longer a man-made ritual at Yosemite National Park, the legacy lives on. Several years after the end of the man-made Firefall, a new phenomenon emerged that pays homage to the original Firefall. Each year, for a few weeks in mid to late-February, the setting sun illuminates the Horsetail Fall, turning the water a stunning bright orange color. The waterfall cascades down the east side of El Capitan granite rock. Occuring just before sunset, the stunning light display usually occurs for between 5-15 minutes, if conditions are right.

Conditions needed for the natural Firefall to occur:

  • Clear sky
  • Waterfall needs enough water to flow
  • The sun needs to be at the right angle

Similary to the man-made version, the natural Yosemite Firefall has become a very popular event, drawing thousands of visitors to Yosemite National Park each year. 

The Yosemite Firefall is a fascinating phenomenon that makes an impact on the Yosemite National Park and its visitors. If you choose to visit Horsetail Fall to view the Firefall, it's important to check out the National Park Service's guidance to ensure the park is protected for generations to come. 

Yosemite National Park contains a large number of native trees and plants, including Sequoias. Browse Sequoia clothing and other nature-inspired designs in our online store.

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