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Everything you need to know about Yosemite’s stunning ‘firefall’ phenomenon

In what looks like a scene from a fantasy movie, the ‘firefall’ phenomenon in Yosemite is spewing lava-like water again.

Called Horsetail Fall, the fiery waterfall makes an annual appearance for two weeks around February. The fiery orange glow of the waterfall emerges from the illumination of the setting sun over the 1500 foot flowing water.

Yosemite’s stunning ‘fireball’ phenomenon
via twitter

The tight window around catching the Firefall natural phenomenon in Yosemite

The Yosemite Firefall phenomenon is a summer tradition that dates back to 1872.

People would gather at the eastern edge of El Capitan Yosemite to watch ember from the bonfires get pushed over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a man-made fiery waterfall.

As travel blogger James Kaiser notes on his blog:

For decades those words ushered in one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous spectacles: The Yosemite Firefall. Each evening in the summer, a roaring bonfire was built at the edge of Glacier Point , which towers 3,200 feet above Yosemite Valley. By sundown hundreds of spectators had gathered in Curry Village below. At 9pm sharp, a master of ceremonies in Curry Village shouted out, “Let the Fire Fall!” and the bonfire’s glowing embers were pushed over the edge of Glacier Point, creating a glittering “Waterfall of Fire.”

The National Park Service ended the Yosemite Firefall in 1968. But then nature magically took over to recreate the scene.

Today, the scientific miracle of intermixing chemicals including barium, aluminum and strontium mix together with the sunlight at dusk.

Writes Kaiser on the Yosemite Firefall website:

Then in 1973, within months of the 100-year anniversary of the first Yosemite Firefall, photographer Galen Rowell took the first known photo of the “Natural Firefall” at Horsetail Fall. That single photo ushered in an exciting new chapter in the history of the Firefall, and within a few decades the Natural Firefall had become as famous as the Manmade Firefall.

The firefall phenomenon only lasts about 10 minutes so you’ll need to be patient to catch it just as you would a solar eclipse. If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite, check out some of the best lodging sites here.

Video via Calia Domenico/tw