Horsetail Falls 2017 (Yosemite National Park)

Last year I posted the times for the Horsetail Fire Falls event and discovered hundreds of people had found my blog and printed out the times! Thank you all for finding my post and taking advantage! I’ll continue to post them for each year, and I’ll also be releasing an iOS app (coming very soon … just wrapping up developing it!)

Scroll down for the 2017 times…

Each year thousands of photographers visit Yosemite National Park in hopes of seeing the famous ”Fire Falls” event at Horsetail Falls. Horsetail Falls is a seasonal waterfall that only flows after rain or as the snow melts above El Capitan. It’s located on the west side of El Capitan and can be viewed from a number of locations. This event occurs when the sun is in just the right spot to reflect off the granite behind the waterfall and cause it to light up. The sun also needs to be close to the horizon to give off its orange light and thus turn the waterfall orange. It’s amazing how much like fire and lava the water becomes! The event starts around Valentines Day each year and continues for about 2 weeks.

Horsetail Fire Falls from 2016
Horsetail Fire Falls from 2016

Everyone always asks me when the best time to view the Horsetail Fire Falls will be, and more importantly, when to photograph it. Each year I calculate when this will happen and here’s the breakdown for 2017. For those of that are savvy and know that this also occurs from the moon, I’ve included the moonlit times as well.

As a reminder:

  • There needs to be water in the waterfall. Last year we finally had a good year. Let’s pray the rain/snow continues and we get another good Fire Falls year!
  • There needs to be a clear night where the clouds to the west won’t block the sun from hitting the waterfall.
  • Arrive early as there will be many people in the park and parking spots are limited.

Sunset for 2017:

Horsetail Falls Sunset 2017
Predicted date and times for Sunset Horsetail Falls, 2017

Moonlit for 2017:

Moonlit is a bit more complicated because there’s a number of factors at play: the moon needs to be large (mostly full), there needs to be no clouds, and the sun has to be far enough below the horizon that it doesn’t wash out the stars.

Horsetail Falls Moonset 2017
Predicted date and times for Moonlit Horsetail Falls, 2017

I do not expect the Moonlit Fire Falls to occur this year. Ideally the moon would be at an Azimuth (position in the sky) between 252° and 258°, however, on May 8th it’ll be at 260° with an elevation in the sky that sends more white light than orange/red light. To your eye, the moonlit Horsetail will always appear white (we don’t see color well at night), but the camera may pick up some colors. Adjusting the white balance warmer may bring out more of the red color and compensate for the less than ideal elevation. The 260° Azimuth will cause more of the right side of the wall to light up. In June, I do not expect Horsetail Falls to have any water.

Where to See/Photograph Horsetail Falls:

There are 3 popular locations (click the link for Google Maps and GPS coordinates) that can be easily accessed to view and photograph Horsetail Falls on fire.
Horsetail width =

1) El Capitan picnic area (on Northside Drive). This is the most popular (click to see Michael Chang’s photo) and most crowded view of Horsetail Falls. This is where Galen Rowell took his famous ”Natural Firefall” photo. This location provides the closest view, but it’s further east and a harsher angle and is better in late February (perhaps the last week of the Fire Falls as the sunset moves east). You can get some great photos from here but it is recommended to go further east during the early week of the Fire Falls and to hit this spot at a later week. Parking fills up really quickly (the lot was full by 2pm) so get here early!

GPS Coordinates: 37° 43’ 41.82”, -119° 37’ 13.62”

2) Southside Drive, West. This provides the best angle to see the actual waterfalls but from this angle the falls won’t appear to be on fire (see Eloine Chapman’s photo here). The granite rock lights up with a glorious orange glow but it may be disappointing if you’re expecting Fire Falls. I prefer the other 2 shooting locations to this one. There is a parking lot here and then a small hill to walk down.

GPS Coordinates: 37° 43’ 23.30”, -119° 37’ 17.56” (Park at: 37° 43’ 22.11”, -119° 37’ 12.73”)

3) Southside Drive, East. This is the location where my photo above was taken. This angle is a bit further south east than the Picnic Grounds so you’ll need a slightly longer lens (as you can see, 200mm was enough) but allows you to capture El Capitan and the falls at the same time. This viewing spot also gives you an angle to see the trees and snow above the falls. There’s a small turn-out on both sides of the road just before this spot that can handle about 10 cars. Plan on arriving by 2:30pm if you want a spot. The rangers have been known to swing by this location about 5 minutes before the falls turn on fire and give anyone parked on the road a $300 ticket (so get here early and claim your spot in the pull-out area)!

GPS Coordinates: 37° 43’ 39.84”, -119° 36’ 33.06” (Park at: 37° 43’ 36.74”, -119° 36’ 33.06”)

What to Bring:

  • Your camera (obviously), preferably an SLR, but a point-and-shoot with a longer zoom will work too.
  • A telephoto lens (100-200mm lens is enough. Full Frame cameras may want a 300mm lens).
  • A sturdy tripod (I used a crappy tripod and had some small shake from the heavy lens).
  • Cable release/remote control shutter (to avoid camera shake).
  • Warm clothes (layers, gloves, hat, sweatshirt, jacket, etc).
  • Flashlight (for after sunset).
  • Lawn chair (to sit on while you wait for sunset).
  • Snacks/Food/Water.

Recommended Settings:

  • Mode: Aperture Priority (you have a tripod to allow for slow shutter speeds and you want to make sure you have a good depth of field).
  • Aperture: Use the sharpest aperture for your lens (typically around f/8). Once you have a couple good shots you can start to play around with other apertures.
  • Focal Length: A focal length of about 100-150 should be enough (150-225mm on a full frame dSLR).
  • ISO: Lowest ”standard” ISO, to ensure the least amount of noise.
  • White Balance: Auto White-Balance. You’ll probably warm it up in post-processing.
  • Focus: Manual focus with Live-View (if available). Many photographers had trouble getting clear shots because autofocus couldn’t be obtained or it focused on the mist and not on the rocks. Turn on manual focus and image stabilization (vibration reduction on Nikon), zoom as far in as you can on live view, and manually adjust the focus until it is sharpest then turn-off image stabilization and LiveView.
  • Shutter: use a remote shutter release. It will decrease the chance of motion blur.
  • Mirror-Lockup: If you need to, use mirror-lockup to reduce motion blur. I had a crappy tripod and this was needed to get better shots.
  • Exposure Compensation: Under expose your photo. The falls are really bright and can cause a slightly overexposed photo if shooting in Matrix Metering. I found a darker image with dark granite looked best and you’ll also get a faster shutter speed and thus sharper photo.
  • Use 14-bit RAW images if you have the option. Don’t shoot in JPEG.

Tips for Shooting Horsetail Falls:

  • Scope out the locations before hand and choose your favorite spot.
  • The sunset starts out on the west side of the rocks during early February and progressively moves east (from left to right in the photos). If you want to see the falls all lit up in the early ”Fire Falls” season, go further east. As the sunset moves east you can move east (towards picnic grounds) to get good shots. See Steve Thuman’s shot for an example of going too early in February.
  • You need to shoot this at an angle to get the falls on fire. The “Fire Falls” effect is created because the granite rocks face east/west and happens to reflect the February sunset. This reflection then backlights the waterfalls. Too much water and it blocks the sunset from hitting the falls. Too far west and you aren’t at an angle to see the sunset reflecting off the rocks onto the water.
  • Get there early! People started showing up at the picnic grounds by 2pm and at the Southside Dr location by 2:30. Parking is limited and you can get a $300 ticket for parking on the street!
  • Don’t get stressed if you do not see much water on the falls. The mist will light up beautifully. In fact, from the picnic grounds we couldn’t see any water but they still got a great Fire Falls!
  • Re-adjust your focus a couple minutes before sunset is supposed to start. The dropping temperatures will change your focus.
  • A really sturdy tripod is recommended. Add some weight under the center column if you can. Shutter speeds will be less than a 10th of a second and even the slightest movement can ruin your shots.
  • An L bracket on your tripod can be handy for stabilization when shooting in portrait orientation. Some lenses have a slip ring that can rotate 90º to allow you to do this without an L bracket (for example both Canon/Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses do this).
  • You do not need a polarizer. The light is soft and the polarizer didn’t do anything to enhance the photo.
  • Take a couple practice shots before hand so you can figure out your settings and make sure everything is super sharp.
  • The snow/ice that you’re standing on can be really slippery when the sun sets. There are lot of dried pine-needles on the ground so take a bunch and put it on the ground below you to provide some extra traction.
  • Be patient! You’ll be sitting outside for a while so make friends with the other photographers, ask em for tips, and just have fun!

View my Photos from Here:

Aaron M Written by:

Aaron Meyers is a landscape and wedding photographer living in Silicon Valley, CA. His love of the outdoors makes for frequent forays into the Californian wilds, where he delights in the stunning vistas of Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, and the Pacific Coast.

54 Comments

  1. Kevin
    January 10, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron love your site. Any idea if the recent amount of snow and rain in the Valley will do anything to alter your estimates? Have a tripped booked for Feb 15-17 and was wondering if I should postpone it till a couple of days later. Thanks.

    • Aaron M
      January 10, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Kevin. The dates and times are based on when the sun will be in the optimal position. The snow/rain won’t have any impact on the dates. The only impact on dates would be if the next 30 days are *completely* dry, then sooner would be better (though even then it might not matter). Assuming clear skies on the 15-17, you’ll have a great time. I personally prefer it a little bit later, closer to the 21st/22nd because the light moves more towards the right, spotlighting Horsetail Falls, and gives less of a “wet wall” look on the wall to the left of Horsetail. You’ll get great photos on the 15-17 though.

  2. Kevin
    January 10, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you! This is hands down the best information about the fire falls on the web. Appreciate all the time you’ve put into it. Looking forward to seeing your photos from this year.

  3. Ami Eaton
    January 14, 2017
    Reply

    Just found your blog and starting to scheme how to get there this year…thank you! But I’m dying to know– were your predictions right last year? Did you get a shot last year? On which night?

    • Aaron M
      January 15, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Ami! Yes, the predictions are accurate since they’re based on actual position of the sun and the angles required for the suns light to hit the waterfall. Michael Fry and some others confirm the timing is accurate :).

      Keep in mind these times predict when the waterfall will turn red, like it’s on fire, but the waterfall will start lighting up yellow and orange several minutes before my predictions, so you’ll want to be out there and ready ahead of time!

      I made the trek to Yosemite on two evenings last year (the 21st and 22nd). The first evening was ruined by clouds, but the second evening had a beautiful Fire Falls! You can see the photo I took last year in the top of the post, with the caption “Horsetail Fire Falls from 2016” or visit it on my website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com/Places/Yosemite/i-t4qsn2m/A

  4. Sonarupa sinha
    January 20, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron,
    I found this information very helpful. And I loved all your photographs. They are amaaazing.
    I did have this one more question though. The firefall shot that you took last year was from which spot? Also I have my tickets booked for Feb 18,19th in yosemite. Which would be the best place to take the best shot for the dates mentioned.

    Sona

    • Aaron M
      January 27, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Sona, My photo from last year was taken near the El Capitan picnic grounds on the North Side Drive. Both the North Side Drive and South Side Drive locations will look great on all of the days – it really depends on which scene you personally prefer. If you want the more traditional horse tail shape like in my photo last year, then the North Side Drive is your best bet. If you’d prefer a view with less of the horse tail shape, but more of a look above the falls, then South Side Drive (as seen from my photo http://www.aaronmphotography.com/Nature/Water/i-f3XMc6B/A).

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

  5. Frank K
    January 26, 2017
    Reply

    + 1 on Sona’s question…
    THANK YOU for the outstanding info! Great, amazing pictures!

  6. Anoorag
    January 29, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron,

    Terrific website and excellent content. Thank you so much for putting in the time and effort to make this information available for amateurs.
    I love your pics of the Firefall and have me super excited to catch a glimpse of them in 2017. Fingers crossed!

    Quick question though – looking at the weather forecast for Yosemite Valley, it seems like Feb 18-21 will be quite cloudy. Do you still feel those dates would work or we might have to watch for the weather/clouds?

    • Aaron M
      January 29, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Anoorag! Glad you’ve enjoyed my photos. As you know with weather, there’s absolutely no way to accurately predict cloud conditions beyond ~2 days in advance, let alone a month away. I wouldn’t put any weight into weather forecasts until a few days before.

      Since the Fire Falls is entirely dependent upon the sun, you’ll want to watch the weather forecast very closely. You’ll also want to hope that the temperatures warm up on those days. I was in Yosemite last weekend and Horsetail was entirely frozen, despite tons of snow. At this point, with all the snow up there, a good warm day will cause the waterfall to gush!

      • Anoorag
        January 29, 2017
        Reply

        Yeah, that is true! Hope the weather gods are kind.
        I am pinning my hopes on the weekend because it will be tough to get off work….unless AT&T coverage improved in Yosemite Valley and I can work from there lol.

        Well, hope to bump into you around Feb 18, 19.

        Best of luck!

        Thanks again for the awesome website..
        Do let us know when your app is out. Will surely get it!

  7. Jim Meehan
    February 4, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron
    Really love your site and your work. I was trying to figure out a route in and I see that 140 is closed for the season before you get into the valley. What is the alternate route you use to get into the spots you recommend.
    Thanks
    Jim Meehan

    • Aaron M
      February 4, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Jim,
      Glad you enjoyed my photos! CA-140 is open, arriving into Yosemite through El Portal. CA-120 is also open, entering the valley through Big Oak Flat Rd. CA-120 passes through higher elevation and may have chain control or snowy conditions. CA-140 is lower elevation and is usually the better bet in the winter, though it may close periodically for rock slides.

    • oops:é que eu queria perguntar um nome de cada atleta que faz:water polo,maratona,beisebol,mergulho,patinação,arco e flecha,háquei,salto em altura.esqui na neve,tiro ao alvo,windsurfe e pólo.tem que ser rápido é um trabalho para amanha de tardfe eu preciso ter essas respostas hoje mesmo.bjoostchau

  8. Jim Meehan
    February 5, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks aaronIs there a local site to trackthe weather happenings in th e park or specifically what is happening on horseshoe? I am south of Visalia and plan to come up there but obviously is is a trek that I hate to make without real time happenings at the park.
    Jim

    • Aaron M
      February 5, 2017
      Reply

      Yosemite posts their own forecasts but the NOAA (weather.gov) weather is usually pretty accurate for Yosemite. I’m watching the snow level’s for the next few days: it may rain at the elevation that feeds Horsetail Falls, which would melt all the snow. We need that snow up there so it feeds the falls.

  9. Kristi Brown
    February 8, 2017
    Reply

    I love love love your photos. I’ve been wanting to see this for a few years now and am hoping to come up Feb 22 and Feb 23 from Sacramento, CA. We are looking for a basic hotel and I keep getting conflicting information. Do you have any hotel recommendations near the 3 viewing sites you’ve listed? Thank you so much. Any info is helpful.

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Kristi!
      The Yosemite Lodge is a very basic hotel inside Yosemite Valley, but may be fully booked. Your other options are the 2 hotels in “El Portal”: The Yosemite View Lodge or the Cedar Lodge. The Cedar Lodge is about 10 minutes further away but is cheaper. Both are clean and slightly nicer than the Yosemite Lodge. The Yosemite View Lodge is slightly nicer than the Cedar Lodge.

      • Kristi
        February 13, 2017
        Reply

        Thanks So Much

  10. Heather Mekosh
    February 9, 2017
    Reply

    Looks like this year the snow clouds are likely to cause problems. What kind of chance do you think there will be to get the shot if the likelyhood of snow showers is 50-60% during the peak week?

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Heather! You’re correct, that chance of rain and clouds will be a problem. In order for the falls to light up, there can’t be any cloud coverage blocking the sun at sunset. Last year I visited on a day that was entirely clear, until right at sunset, one small cloud blocked sunset and killed the entire show! When looking at the weather forecast, I recommend looking at “cloud cover” instead of “% of precipitation”. It gives a better estimate at whether Fire Falls will happen. Remember, all we need is a few minute clearing — so cloud coverage can be >0% and we can still get Fire Falls … if the clouds happen to clear in the west during sunset.

  11. Greg
    February 10, 2017
    Reply

    I may be able to get to the Yosemite on the last weekend of February (25, 26, 27) to see this natural event. I saw in your Feb 2017 predictions above you rate the Firefall as “good” as far as Sunday, Feb 26. However I did not see anything for Monday, Feb 27? Is there hope of seeing anything on Feb 27, as well?

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      You’ll probably get a little bit of light on the falls on the 27th, though the deep burning red most likely won’t happen.

  12. Derick
    February 10, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron. Great site and appreciate all the info! Awesome pictures! I’m planning to go this weekend (2/11-2/12). Sat may be partly cloudy and Sunday might be better. If I understand you correctly, it sounds like being further east would be better during this time? So South Side drive location? Will the El Capitan picnic location still be fine?
    Thanks!
    Derick

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Derick! Yep – either location will be great. It all depends on personal preference. This early the light is mostly on the wall to the left of horsetail and the South Side drive does a *slightly* better job of blocking that wall. I prefer when the light moves more right and doesn’t leave a giant “wet wall”, so I tend to wait until the 20th to go.

  13. Jan
    February 11, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron,
    I may be there the 14th, do you think it make sense? You blog is really great – I really appreciate your help for all the crazy photographers 😉

    Thanks
    Jan

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Jan! The 14th looks like it might be one of the better days, based on the weather forecast. You should have a great time if you go!

  14. February 11, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron, Just as a heads up, I would definitely move “good” up a couple of days. I went up on the 12th and 13th last year, and while the 12th kind of fizzled out, the 13th had clear skies out to China. While the last minute reds probably didn’t have the same intensity as the 21st, the reds were definitely there, albeit only for a short time. As I watched the falls through my 400mm, you could see the red pulsing down the face of the cliff…almost creepy! If someone only has that weekend available, they might assume from your chart that there is NO chance of seeing the effect, or that they won’t see any oranges or reds at all. My two buddies and I went home very happy with our shots, and because my buddies are more savvy than I on instagram, they were picked up by CNN and several national TV spots. (Not that I’m bitter, lol.) I posted 2-3 shots on my flickr page and my last one shows the reds right before we lost the sun. While the 13th may not have been “best” I would think that date would definitely qualify as “good” and it really surprised me as our results cut against the grain as we tend to tell everyone “Shoot during the last two weeks of February.” Anyway, thanks for putting this together. I also am very curious to see what Feb 21 looks like with only a 35% moon. From what I’ve seen while out shooting the Milky Way, a 35% moon can still throw off quite a bit of light. If you used a longer exposure and blended in the stars, I think one might be able to get a moon shot on Feb 21 as it looks like the moon will set on the same line as the sun. Your moon shot is amazing…as is everything that you post. It was great meeting you and Willie last year. I hope I run into you guys again at some point. Cheers!

    • Aaron M
      February 11, 2017
      Reply

      You are certainly correct! The falls will still get light on it. So far I’ve kept the predictions based on the probability of it turning that deep red, like lava instead of just a glowing orange. I often reference your photos from last year when people ask me if it will happen earlier, since it definitely does. It’s a tough debate because people ask me when will be the best time to see it is, and I don’t want to send them there too early, though I also get people who can only go earlier and also ask if that will be OK. I’ve been playing slightly more conservative and have based my recommendations around keeping expectations high: when it’s most likely to have a good long deep red.

      I’ll be curious to see how the moon comes out with a less full moon! I ran my calculations at various moon illumination levels but so far have kept it around >90% full — let me know if you find that I can drop that down and open up the possibility of more dates!

  15. Anoorag Saxena
    February 11, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron,

    I was originally plannjng on going to see the Fire falls on Feb 18-19. But it seems like the weather may not be on our side, especially since a storm seems to be rolling in the week after.
    I am thinking of making a trip tomorrow (Feb 12).
    Do you have any recommendations on how to position myself? Are my odds better on El Capitan Dr. being more direct line of sight?

    Thanks
    Anoorag

    • Aaron M
      February 12, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Anoorag,
      Either location will be fine for Feb 12th. It really comes down to personal preference. This early in the month, the wall on the left of Horsetail tends to stay lit up, which I’m not a huge fan of. South side drive tends to hide the wall a bit better, but it’s still visible. You’ll get great photos from any location — just make sure to arrive early and find a clear line-of-sight with no trees in the way! The North Side drive location (near El Capitan Picnic Grounds) tends to be less crowded … or rather there’s more spots.

      • Anoorag Saxena
        February 12, 2017
        Reply

        Thanks for the tips, Aaron.
        I will let you know updates from ground zero once I am back.

        Best
        A

  16. Jan
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks Aaron, tomorrow I’ll be there. I should arrive there atround 2:30PM – so parking should be not an issue. As I understood you correcty the more east parking places should be the place to go, Isn’t it?! So Southside Dr Parking 1 and 2 should be the ones to go?

    Thanks
    Jan

    • Aaron M
      February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Jan,
      Either location will be fine. If you arrive at 2:30pm I imagine you’ll have quite a bit of trouble finding parking or a spot at South Side drive. People have been showing up starting around 8 or 9am! You can always drive by and see how it is, and head to El Capitan Picnic grounds if South Side is full.

  17. Jim Meehan
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron
    Do you know what the condition of the valley floor is? I am wondering if much snow that requires boots?
    Thanks
    Jim

  18. Jan
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Thanks Aaron,
    you’re really responsive 🙂 I’m really excited, hopefully I will have some great shots and the weather is on my side. I will check the parking spots and worse case I can walk, I will let you know

    Jan

  19. Jim Meehan
    February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Looks like weather is bad after wed for nex 2 weeks
    Tuesday looks lilke the best day. Any body read it differently?

    • Aaron M
      February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Cloud cover on Tuesday is only 25%, but then goes to 90%+ for the rest of the week/weekend. Looks like Tuesday the 14th is your best bet for a while!

  20. February 13, 2017
    Reply

    Aaron, you still planning on the 20th just in case the clouds get moving and out of the way in time for sunset? I WAS planning on being there from the 18th through the 21st but even giving me four sunsets in the weather conditions of the predictions looks like it will just be a cool Yosemite trip in late Winter. You feeling like canceling your trip on the 20th yet?

    • Aaron M
      February 13, 2017
      Reply

      Great question Aaron! All it takes is a clearing to the west and Horsetail can light up … so it all depends on what the cloud coverage looks like. I’ve learned that any weather prediction >1 day away can never be trusted, so I’ll wait until the 19th or 20th to make a final decision. If it’s this full cloud, rain that is predicted for the next few days, then I’ll probably stay at home and pass. If there’s a chance the clouds will stay, I’ll probably make the trek. Fortunately for me it’s only about 3.5 hours to get to Yosemite. Unfortunately though, I have some trips planned that take me out of town, so the 21st and 22nd are my only options! I’m praying Mama Nature cooperates!

      • February 14, 2017
        Reply

        I’ll be praying too. Looks like I will likely come and pray along with ya! 😀 Thanks, Aaron

    • February 14, 2017
      Reply

      Curious as well. Been trying to identify the spot from Google Earth but without having been there it is hard to identify that clearing on a hill.

  21. February 15, 2017
    Reply

    Hey Aaron thank you so much for all the detailed information! It looks like it will be pretty cloudy this weekend… do you think it’s still a wise decision to head on out there?
    Yosemite is a 4 hour drive for me (coming from the bay area), I’m not sure if the drive will be worth it. Thoughts?

    Thanks!
    Alan

    • Aaron M
      February 15, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Alan,
      Based on this weather, I wouldn’t risk it (it’s either complete cloud coverage, or snowing). It’s a bit disappointing, since there’s so much snow up there and Horsetail would be great, if only the clouds would go away!

  22. Sue
    February 15, 2017
    Reply

    I Googled around and guessing that location is probably the “reverse tunnel view” on the Four Mile Trail. One more Question, I understand that we can also see the Fire Falls in October if enough rain around that time. Do you have the time schedule for the October Fire Falls? Is it just like in Feb. with the best viewing around 21th of Oct.? Thank you so much.

  23. Chandra
    February 15, 2017
    Reply

    Will be there this weekend. I know the weather is not all that great, but I have come all the way from India for this ! Maybe something could work out. Fingers crossed. Anyone else planning to be there, do let me know. Will be great to catch up on ground zero

  24. stacey
    February 21, 2017
    Reply

    Aaron,
    Do you have any predictions on if the weather will be good enough to see the falls on 2/23 and 2/24/2017? It looks like so far those are the sunny days this week.

  25. steve
    February 21, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Aaron, congrats and thank you for providing this blog — it is a great resource!

    A few questions:

    WHERE do you find the predicted cloud cover (25%, 90%+, etc.) ??? NOAA’s Glossary translates the WORDS in their forecasts to cloud coverage in eighths (ranging from “sunny”/”clear” = 0/8 cloud coverage to “cloudy” = 8/8 cloud coverage). Also, NOOA’s HOURLY forecast predicts “Sky Cover %” (which I’m guessing equates to cloud coverage?)

    Regarding Stacey’s question about 2/23 and 2/24, NOAA’s Yosemite Valley (37.73°N 119.62°W Elev. 3999 ft) forecast as of 9/21 at 10:56am is for mostly sunny (1/8 to 2/8 cloud coverage) both days and partly cloudy (3/8 to 4/8 cloud coverage) both nights. My guess is that this means sunset is predicted to have anywhere from 1/8 to 4/8 cloud coverage, depending on what time and how quickly the transition from mostly sunny to partly cloudy occurs. And NOAA’s Yosemite Valley HOURLY forecast is for Sky Cover % to be 42% at sunset on 2/23 and 45% at sunset on 2/24.

    Granted these forecasts as of now are more than 48 hours in advance of sunsets on 2/23-24 and are therefore more likely to change than they would be 24 hours or less in advance, but IF these forecasts are still the same 24 hours or less in advance, would these predicted conditions be favorable enough for a good Fire Falls?

    And with the above yardsticks for measuring predicted conditions, are there any criteria that need to be met to result in a good Fire Falls (for example, Sky Cover % = x% or less)?

  26. Bill F
    February 27, 2017
    Reply

    Dear Aaron, my 10 yo son and I want to thank you for your guide and recommendations for when and where to get a good view. We went Friday 2/24 on the chance we might see the falls light up, and lo and behold they did about 5:42! What a blessing this was for my son on his first trip to Yosemite. It was my first time seeing this spectacle, too. Thank you for the guide, and practical suggestions. There were hundreds of photographers whooping and hollering in the woods as the falls ignited for a few brief minutes. What a special treat in a place I already love for so many other reasons!

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