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Updated February 2, This covers my thoughts on the new procedures, crowds, what to expect and packand my anecdotal experience of trudging through waist-deep snow to get my Firefall photo. Second, the National Park Service has announced that restrictions will be in effect for February The first of these is that the closest available parking will be Yosemite Falls Parking Area just west of Yosemite Valley Lodgewith a 1. This is similar to what the NPS has done the last two years, but there are more new restrictions for ….
The bigger change is that day use reservations will be required to enter Yosemite National Park from February 8 through at least February 28, For example, on February 20 at 8 a. PST, the remaining reservations will be released for February 22, Day-use reservations are valid for seven consecutive days and must be validated on the first day that your reservation is scheduled to begin.
Only one reservation is needed per vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle contains one person or one-dozen. Visitors with an overnight reservation in Yosemite National Park campground, lodging, vacation rental, or wilderness permit holders will not need a day use reservation. Additionally, those arriving via public transit or on an authorized tour do not need reservations. Although this new reservation system coincides with the annual Firefall at Yosemite National Park, the impetus for the attendance limitation is local public health conditions. The National Park Service is working with health authorities and the four adjacent counties Mariposa, Tuolumne, Madera, and Mono to ensure the park reopens safely.
Capacity caps are part of that, and will likely remain in place beyond Firefall dates. For that, parking restrictions are once again in effect for Februaryfrom noon to 7 pm. This effectively eliminates half of all primary Firefall viewing locations in Yosemite National Park. As riverbanks filled, visitors moved into the Merced River, trampling sensitive vegetation and exposing themselves to unsafe conditions. In the aftermath of Firefall, undeveloped areas were littered with trash, and the lack of restrooms resulted in unsanitary conditions. Why the National Park Service is doing this is completely understandable.
However, the practical reality is that the main viewing area will now have double the demand and be even more overcrowded—and it was already pretty overcrowded last year. I totally agree with all of that. The sacrifice is huge for such a small sliver of time, and the potentiality of a perfect shot…that will be identical to thousands of others on Instagram. Yosemite National Park is one of my absolute favorite places on earth, and you will not experience why that is by taking a trip focused around Firefall. The Firefall was made famous by Galen Rowell, who in his memoir Mountain Light detailed his scramble to photograph the Firefall when he spotted it in February Ironically enough, did not mark the first photo of a firefall in Yosemite National Park, just the first photo of the natural phenomenon.
This fire-fall occurred nightly at 9 p. In fitting irony, Glacier Point Hotel was destroyed by fire inand has not been rebuilt. The National Park Service eventually ordered it to end because it Yosemite Village dating 101 causing damage to Yosemite Valley, both in terms of meadows being trampled and the whole flaming garbage thing. It was a different time. The Firefall has since gained popularity among photographers wishing to capture their own photos of this iconic scene, with its popularity proliferating in recent years in the era of social media and virality.
Now, it seems like the Yosemite Firefall has gone mainstream, and is not just on the radar of photographers. In terms of Yosemite photography, I had other priorities. However, some photography friends were coming out to California for the Horsetail Fall Firefall last February, so I figured I might as well. It was when we saw the Firefall in its full glory that I realized what a difference good water flow and the right conditions make.
The scene was breathtaking. There are no specific dates when the Firefall is guaranteed to be visible.
The window for which you should aim if you want to see it is mid to late-February. The best potential dates are going to fall within a roughly two week window around this time, but the Firefall could potentially be seen before or after this window, too. The reason being, the Firefall is largely contingent upon weather conditions.
From my perspective, there is no single best date for the Firefall, but there are worst dates: February Beyond the best dates, the bigger concerns are weather and water flow. The latter is the biggest thing, and what really distinguished last year from the Firefall a couple of years ago, in my mind. Yosemite National Park received a decent amount of snow last year, and that coupled with abnormally warm weather during our Firefall attempts meant some seriously good water flow. Weather matters, too.
Unlike a normal sunset, which is best photographed with some nice clouds that are illuminated by the sun, a clear sky is ideal for the Firefall. You need the sun hitting the mountain for the full effect of the Firefall, and all it takes is a single rogue cloud to kill it.
My favorite shot I captured Yosemite Village dating 101 the Firefall is the one at the top of this section from a side view of Horsetail Fall shot from a clearing in the woods about a mile before the El Capitan Picnic Area. The way the mist is catching the light has an ethereal quality, and seeing this in person actually gave me goosebumps. I fired off over photos and each shot with the mist like this has its own unique character.
I started editing about 15 of them before I decided I need to narrow things down. Speaking of views, there are two go-to spots, both of which are pull-outs on the Yosemite Valley Loop. The most popular spot is the south view, which is a parking area near Cathedral Beach. As noted above, this will not be an option on peak dates in due to new NPS restrictions.
The second is the north Yosemite Village dating 101, east of the El Capitan Picnic Area. These are good, safe locations for viewing the Firefall. Hundreds of photographers descend upon Yosemite National Park for the Firefall, and there will be cones set up along with age about Firefall parking.
Once you shoot from the go-to spots on night 1, I recommend finding an alternate spot on night 2. This is my recommendation for a few reasons. First, finding the Firefall on your own is tricky, and there are few other locations in Yosemite Valley that offer as good of a view as these parking areas.
Second, there is something to be said for the communal experience of witnessing such an amazing moment or moments with other visitors to the park. Finally, the flip side of the communal energy is the individual solitude. For one trip photographing the Firefall, I shot from two new locations away from the go-to spots. The photo at the top of the post is taken from a scramble up to get a view above the Yosemite Valley floor, and the others are from the woods before the El Cap picnic area. In terms of light, you can expect things to start looking good about 15 minutes before official sunset.
In my experience, the light peaks almost at the official sunset time on the dot. On the day that the above photo was shot, the official sunset time was p. It literally was the last light—my actual last shot was taken at p. Many photographers wait until the last light to grab their shots as the sliver of light is the narrowest and the falls glow red, but I actually prefer my shots from around to p.
As far as equipment goes, you want a zoom lens, ideally a mm or perhaps even something with more reach. Overall, the Firefall at Yosemite National Park is a beautiful natural phenomenon that is quite the sight to behold. However, you will be sacrificing a lot to behold it. I have zero desire to ever return to Yosemite National Park for Firefall, and would strongly encourage you to think twice before visiting during this timeframe. Yosemite is truly majestic in the winter…but Firefall is no longer worth the effort, frustration, intensity, crowds, etc.
Have you seen the Firefall at Yosemite National Park? What did you think of it? Is it on your bucket list? What do you think of my shots of the Firefall? Do you agree or disagree with my recommendation of avoiding Firefall? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments! If you want a copy of this totally free Things to Do in Southern California eBook, all you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter and you will receive a link to download the eBook.
We respect your privacy. While day pass is valid for 7 days, they write the last three digits of your plate on it in the same size as the expiration date so not sure that would work unless you enter when gate is not staffed, but open. Subscribe to our free newsletter. This is similar to what the NPS has done the last two years, but there are more new restrictions for … The bigger change is that day use reservations will be required to enter Yosemite National Park from February 8 through at least February 28, Here are some of my tips if you want to photograph it yourself… Firefall Photography Tips There are no specific dates when the Firefall is guaranteed to be visible.
The eBook is 51 s long, featuring 75 photos, and obviously things to do in Southern California. Is anyone reselling their day pass? Can I use the pass if it is valid for 7 days? Leave a Reply Want to the discussion? Feel free Yosemite Village dating 101 contribute!Yosemite Village dating 101
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