Horsetail Fall (Yosemite)

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Horsetail Fall
2007-02-16 - Horsetail Fall (Yosemite).jpg
Horsetail Fall illuminated by the setting sun
LocationYosemite National Park, California, USA
Coordinates37°43′45″N 119°37′42″W / 37.7291°N 119.6284°W / 37.7291; -119.6284Coordinates: 37°43′45″N 119°37′42″W / 37.7291°N 119.6284°W / 37.7291; -119.6284
Total height2,130 ft (650 m)
Number of drops2
Longest drop1,570 ft (480 m)
flow rate
very slight flows a few weeks in normal years

Horsetail Fall, located in Yosemite National Park in California, is a seasonal waterfall that flows in the winter and early spring. The fall occurs on the east side of El Capitan.[1] If Horsetail Fall is flowing in February and the weather conditions are just right, the setting sun illuminates the waterfall, making it glow orange and red.[2] This natural phenomenon is often referred to as the "Firefall", a name that pays homage to Yosemite Firefall, the manmade event that once took place in Yosemite.

This waterfall descends in two streams side by side, the eastern one being the larger but both quite small. The eastern one drops 1,540 ft (470 m), and the western one 1,570 ft (480 m), the second highest fully airborne waterfall in Yosemite that runs at some point every year (the highest being Ribbon Fall.) The waters then gather and descend another 490 ft (150 m) on steep slabs, so the total height of these waterfalls is 2,030 ft (620 m) to 2,070 ft (630 m). The image shown here is taken during a brief time during the winter, near February 21 at sunset, made famous by Galen Rowell's photograph.

The fall is sometimes referred to as an ephemeral fall because of its seasonal nature.[3] It is best seen and photographed from a small clearing close to the picnic area on the north road leading out of Yosemite Valley east of El Capitan.[4]


  1. ^ "Yosemite National Park Waterfalls". U.S. National Park Service. 8 December 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
  2. ^ "The Natural Firefall". Archived from the original on 2013-01-27.
  3. ^ About Horsetail Falls, One of Yosemite's Ephemeral Waterfalls.
  4. ^ "How to photograph Horsetail Falls". California Photo Scout. 28 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-04.

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