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Time-Lapse Video Shows Natural ‘Firefall’ Phenomenon at Yosemite

You’ll be scratching your head if you’ve never seen of this national park’s one-of-a-kind spectacle. At Yosemite, visitors flock to the park to get a rare glimpse of the ‘Firefall.’

Although to many, it looks like an optical illusion. While it appears to be red-hot lava pouring out of the mountain, it’s actually several other factors happening simultaneously. During this magical moment, taking place in mid-to-late February, the setting sun illuminates Horsetail Fall at just the right angle.

During the spectacle, one parkgoer captured a mesmerizing timelapse video. Last week, Shreenivasan Manievannan (@shreeniclix on Instagram) caught the once-in-a-lifetime event while visiting the California national park.

Your best bet at witnessing the Firefall is around Feb. 21. However, if you can’t make the exact date, you’ll also have a chance to witness its beauty on evenings leading up to and immediately after the date in late Feb.

According to park officials, this enchanting encounter dates back between 1872 and 1968, when park visitors would start a bonfire atop the park’s Glacier Point. They would drop red-hot embers off a cliffside after the sunset, and people would gather below to watch the show. Although the event stopped, the natural firefall still exists today.

At other times during the year, Horsetail Falls is one of Yosemite’s less-visited waterfalls. While it plunges over 2,000 feet, it doesn’t garner the amount of visitors of some of the more well-known waterfalls like Yosemite Falls or Bridalveil Falls. Located on El Capitan, Horsetail Falls gets its water from snowmelt and run-off, which dries up in the hot summer months.

Multiple factors go into creating this magnificent spectacle. First, the combination of the alignment of the setting sun, the viewer, and the waterfall all play a huge factor in whether or not you get a good look at the lava-like show.

Next, the amount of water running from Horsetail Fall will also play an important role. There has to be enough snow on the ground to provide a good stream in Horsetail Fall. It also needs to be warm enough that the sun melts that snow, causing it to run off the waterfall.

You also want clear skies on the day of your firefall viewing. If there’s cloud cover, it could block the sun from hitting the waterfall at just the right time. However, if it clears up in time, you can walk away with stunning pics and videos of the rare, magical moment.

To learn more about Yosemite’s natural beauty, check out these stories.

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