Udayavni Special

Fire fall at Yosemite


Team Udayavani, Aug 5, 2021, 2:41 PM IST

Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, towering granite monoliths, deep valleys, and ancient giant sequoias, is also where you can witness the Firefall. It is the most amazing spectacle. This phenomenon occurs around the second week of February when the setting sun hits Horsetail Fall at just the right angle to illuminate the upper reaches of the waterfall. When the conditions are perfect it glows orange and red at sunset.

Horsetail Fall is visible from multiple viewpoints in Yosemite Valley but several factors must converge to trigger the Firefall. If conditions are not perfect, the Yosemite Firefall will not glow.

The waterfall must be flowing. If there’s not enough snowpack in February, there will not be enough snowmelt to feed the waterfall. The temperatures must be warm enough during the day to melt the snowpack. If temperatures are too cold, the snow will stay frozen. If conditions are cloudy the sun’s rays will be blocked, and Horsetail Fall will not light up.

If the above-mentioned conditions are met, then the Yosemite Firefall will light up for about ten minutes.

Witnessing Horsetail Fall glowing blood red is an almost supernatural experience.

It wan in 1973 photographer Galen Rowell took the first-known photograph of the natural Yosemite Firefall, after which it grew up to the fame it has today.

At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest on the planet but in reality, it is made up of three separate falls-Upper Yosemite Fall, the middle cascades, and Lower Yosemite.

Upper Yosemite Falls

Reaching the Upper falls isn’t easy. It requires taking a 7.2-mile round trip, with 2700ft elevation gain. The majority of the route is exposed to the sun, and therefore it is recommended to start early in order to avoid the midday heat.

The lower falls drop right behind Yosemite village. Adventure seekers can use the hiking trails to climb up and above the lower falls to view the mid-section and get close to the base of the huge and impressive upper falls.

 Middle cascades

The middle cascades are located between the Upper and Lower falls, and cannot be seen from the majority of vantage points.

Lower Yosemite Falls

Here, water descends 320ft; almost twice the drop of Niagara Falls. It is the easiest section to access, with only a short walk from the Yosemite Lodge to the base of the falls required.

The best time to visit would be in May and early June as water flow often reaches 100 cubic feet per second, though typically slows dramatically in mid-summer, and completely dries up by August.

Back in 2017, Yosemite falls made headlines as a video showing the famous falls transforming into a cascading rainbow went viral.

The silent real-time footage of a Yosemite Falls rainbow was captured by photographer Greg Harlow in Yosemite National Park. He revealed that the rainbow lasted over eight minutes around 9:15 am on November 1st, 2017. Greg set up his camera at the location to capture a Yosemite sunrise photo when he looked over to see the waterfall turning red. So, he repositioned his camera on the waterfall. He was one of about 10 people to witness the event.

Calling it the most jaw-dropping moment of his career, Greg said, “Magical certainly is the right word. You can see the waterfall off the cliff and get immediately sprayed into mist by the high winds.”

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