Sometimes, nature puts on a show you have to see to believe.
Nature is one of the top 50 hashtags on Instagram, and no wonder when the earth gifts amateur snappers remarkable views like Yosemite’s golden ‘firefall’.
The firefall phenomenon is one of the many wonders found at California’s Sierra Nevada mountain park, occuring only at the end of February – and even then, only if conditions are right.
Photographers around the world flocked to Yosemite National Park in California this week to catch the incredible natural phenomenon known as Firefall.
While pictures look as if glowing hot lava is spilling over the top of the vertical rock formation known as El Capitan, the rare event is actually caused when the setting sun is reflected off Horsetail Falls.
Sangeeta Dey, a neuropsychologist and photographer who caught the glowing waterfall this year, said: ‘I could not believe what I was seeing. For 10 minutes all of us sat there mesmerized by this spectacle.
‘When it ended, a few of us had tears in our eyes, while some were clapping and others were just ecstatic to finally get a chance to see it after trying for years.’
No that's not lava! That's #HorsetailFalls as it was captured this past Saturday by @_gnarlynick_ and shared with @yosemitenation This beautiful #natural phenomenon known as the #firefall only occurs for a few weeks in late February. As the #highcountry #snow begins to melt it begins to trickle down next to #ElCapitan and as the #sun sets during this particular time of year, this cascade captures the alpine glow of the #Sierras turning this very seasonal #waterfall into a spectacular site to see! Join us this #Saturday as we'll be staying till #sunset on our #SeasonsofYosemite adventure to see if we can witness this light show ourselves! #VisitSacramento #YosemiteValley #AlopexEcoAdventures #Sacramento to #Yosemite #LetUsDrive
2 weeks every February in Yosemite, the sun sets in just the right spot that, as long as the sky's are clear, Horsetail Fall looks like it's on fire. It's called Firefall and @i_am_george_costanza and I happened to be lucky enough to be there to see it last Saturday. #nofilter #firefall #yosemite #sunsetwaterfall #californialove #sfgiants #california #horsetailfalls
Once a year during the middle of February for 10 to 14 days if all the stars align and the clouds don't block the sun the reflections off the face of El Capitan @yosemitenps horsetail falls glows a firey red during the last moments before dusk turing into what is known as "fire falls" truly one of the most spectacular things we've seen. There's still time left this year this was 2/16/16 #elcapitan #yosemite #firefalls #shotwithmyphone @samsungmobileusa #note5 #thathappened #optoutside #rei1440project #traillife
According to National Park Geek, conditions around the El Capitan cliff waterfall must be “warm enough to produce snowmelt”. The clouds must also be situated in such a way that the sun’s rays hit the surging water at the “right angle”.
Here’s what the rocky fountain usually looks like without the firefall ‘filter’:
Why You Should See The Yosemite Firefall In Real Life
It’s a rare natural wonder that’s hard to capture on film and best absorbed with the eyes. And that’s better for you, too: Recent research shows that soaking in awe of nature — in real life, and not on camera — boosts both mental and physical health.
Your best plan for seeing this year’s firefall is to get to Yosemite National Park right about, um, NOW. Head to the park’s El Capitan picnic area (quick, by the end of February!) for your best shot at a view of the sunlight on Horsetail.
If spontaneous trips to national parks aren’t quite your thing, then we advise booking an adventure out to Yosemite for next year. Even if a firefall doesn’t come your way, the glorious sunsets are enough to make everything worth it.