Yosemite National Park will require reservations for the last three weekends of February 2023
Yosemite National Park News- December 13, 2022 – The increasingly popular Horsetail Fall event has resulted in a surge in visitation in recent years. This has led to full parking lots, parking overflowing into traffic lanes, pedestrian-vehicle conflicts causing safety issues, and damage to natural and cultural resources. In order to manage this event, the National Park Service announced last Friday that a reservation will be required to drive into Yosemite National Park on the weekends of February 10–12, February 17–19, and February 24–26, 2023. Reservations will go on sale for that event at Recreation.gov on January 13, 2023 at 8 am PST. Each reservation will be valid for seven days. Learn more on NPS.gov/yose.
Horsetail Fall can glow orange when it’s backlit by sunset, which can make it appear to be on fire. This unique lighting effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing and when the sun is at the right angle in mid– to late February. This event attracts many visitors to a small area, causing traffic congestion, parking issues, safety concerns, and impacts to natural and cultural resources. In order to manage this event, a reservation will be required to enter Yosemite National Park on the weekends of February 10–12, February 17–19, and February 24–26, 2023, even for those not visiting Horsetail Fall. Visitors who first arrive Mondays through Thursdays won’t need a reservation. The $35/car entrance fee is valid for entry for seven days, regardless of day of arrival.
Alternative entry to the park during FireFall can be achieved by taking the Winter Yart Shuttle out of Merced. the Bus schedule for winter can be seen here. A reservation is still recommended, but they do accept walk-ins when space is available. Reservations on Yart includes access to the park.
What are the best conditions to see the natural Yosemite firefall?
However, for a few weeks starting in February, everything comes together to make this humble waterfall an international celebrity. There are several factors that go into creating this magnificent spectacle. A single cloud can block the sun and destroy the effect, but cloudy or windy days can also result in the most interesting photos.
The perfect alignment of the sun, the waterfall and the viewer.
The sun comes into position in mid-to-late February each year, so if you’re in the right place, that’s when the magic will happen. The best time to view the natural Yosemite firefall effect is 5-15 minutes before sunset. however you will need to plant o be in place hours beforehand for the best perspective.
El Capitan Picnic Area
The El Capitan Picnic Area is one of the most popular destinations for Yosemite firefall viewers It’s also one of the closest viewing spots, so if you don’t have a long telephoto lens, this will probably be your best bet.
The closest parking to Horsetail Fall is the Yosemite Falls Parking Area near Yosemite Valley Lodge. Since there will only be one lane for traffic during this period, there is no parking, stopping or unloading passengers between Camp 4 and El Capitan during the ‘firefall season’, though people with a disability placard are allowed to park at the El Capitan Picnic Area.
What should I bring to View the Yosemite Firefall in 2023?
Given that we should anticipate a reasonably long walk from the parking to the viewing areas again this year, and that you should plan to spend at least a few hours outdoors in February, here are a few things you should consider bringing with you.
- Flashlight or headlamp. If you want to be one of the cool kids, bring a red LED light, or cover your regular light with red saran wrap so you don’t interfere too much with others’ night vision adaptation.
- Warm boots or other footwear that is also comfortable to walk in.
- A foldable camp chair or an insulated pad to sit or stand on.
- Food and water.
- Extra warm layers – gloves, hat, extra jackets, scarf or even a blanket. Even if the daytime temperatures are relatively mild, you may want those warm layers as the sun starts to set.
- Camera gear for low-light photography
- A camera with a telephoto lens. Most people will have a DSLR with a 200mm plus lens on it.
- A tripod – preferably a nice sturdy one to hold that big lens.
- A remote or another method to minimize camera shake when taking the photo.
- A friendly and respectful attitude.
- This is a popular event and you’re likely to end up pretty close to other people who have come for the famous natural Yosemite firefall. This is a great opportunity to meet people and share stories.
- Everyone is hoping for a great natural show, but don’t be so obsessed with visions of Instagram fame that you forget that you are in a national park. So, from one park-lover to another: Be aware of your impact. Follow the Nature Rules. Try not to trample the vegetation. Practice Leave No Trace. Make sure you don’t leave any trash behind.