Yosemite Firefall in Photos

Posted by Annie on Dec 12, 2010 in Activity, California, Seasonal |

When Grandma was a young girl she spent her summer vacation at Yosemite National Park. She actually witnessed the real Firefall — the last Yosemite Firefall to flow was on January 25th, 1968. I’m told it was a site to behold.

Today photographers come from all over to witness for themselves the spectacular event, which also hails from Yosemite. It’s known as the “Natural Yosemite ‘Firefall’ at Horsetail Fall

For a few weeks in February, if the water is flowing in Horsetail Falls, photographers and park visitors gather in the waning evening light for an amazing natural display.   The ‘natural firefall’ appears when the angle of the setting sun sets the waterfall ablaze with reds and oranges, like a fire was falling down the cliffs on the shoulder of El Capitan.

We gave up trying to visit Yosemite during the summer months long ago. It’s just too crowded and they have had much of the valley floor torn up for years. It has turned into a perpetual money pit. Our last summer visit was a horrible experience, which we don’t care to repeat.

Alternatively, we try to make several trips during the off-season. Yes, they still have it tore up but with the beautiful snow cover, hanging icicles, sledding and hot chocolate it was actually an enjoyable experience.

We attempted to hook up with another homeschool family a couple of years ago — the trouble is the Firefall is only visible when weather conditions are just right. It’s a real crap-shoot as to whether or not a photographer will actually be there at the right moment – which may only last seconds. Since our funding is limited, our short jaunts to Yosemite are perfectly timed.

Some brave souls actually sleep in tents at Curry Village — believe it or not. During the winter months Yosemite (in past years) runs a special deal — $1 per night, per degree   — which means, if the overnight temperature is 30 degrees, you pay $30 for the night. They have even been known to pay you if the temperature falls below zero. (Yes, heaters are available, as are cots.) Not recommended for the novice.   🙂

I was considering starting an email list, a facebook page or something for homeschoolers who might be interested in a last minute trip to Yosemite National Park, sometime during the last two weeks in February.   The timing gets complicated because rooms fill-up quickly, so reservations must be made well in advance. Sometimes we’ve been allowed to make last minute changes — other times we weren’t. They have a 24-hour cancellation policy — which means if you don’t cancel within 24-hours of your arrival time, you pay for the room.

There is one other drawback to making this trip. Rooms generally aren’t available until 5:00 p.m., which makes it difficult if you have small children and need a place to change, bathrooms, etc… It makes for a very late day and I do not like to drive around those mountain roads after dark. Which means we normally arrive around noon and have hours to fill before we can unload the car and get changed.

If we were brave enough to stay in the tents, which I am not, it would be easier because you can almost always get a tent, they don’t fill up this time of year.

We’ve made our trip three-years in a row now. Our second year, the clouds rolled in five minutes too early, so the Firefall was blocked (the cloud cover rolls in fast and thick). It was still an amazing trip and our photos were incredible. I hope to capture the Firefall this year. Is anyone interested in joining us? I have a 14-year-old son, who would love to make some new friends who enjoy the outdoors, photgraphy, Sonic, Legos and the Wii.

Give me a shout.

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1 Comment

  • Yosemite National Park is still offering the Camp Curry tent camping deal. If you are a seasoned camper (meaning, well prepared) it’s a terrific deal if you are on a tight budget but still enjoy the great outdoors.

    We are hoping to make our annual trip next month. Anyone else plan to go?

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