Yosemite National Park, California

   Yosemite National Park, located about 190 miles east from San Francisco, is home to a range of beautiful water falls and hiking trails. Some of the water falls are Horsetail Fall, also known as Yosemite Firefall, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Fall. There’s more but didn’t have time to explore all of them, so I will just share my experience. Hope it helps with your travel plans.


Horsetail Fall has recently gained popularity for its orange/fire like glow during sunset. This lighting effect is only visible on evenings with clear sky when the waterfall is flowing during mid to late February. Best view of the Firefall is from the parks’s El Captain picnic area. You will have to park at the Yosemite Valley Lodge and walk for around 1 mile. Make sure to view the  water fall from a roughly 35 degrees angle from the horizontal plane (or move roughly 55 degrees to right after facing the water fall from the front) for the best views and photos.


Yosemite Falls and the Bridalveil Fall can easily be seen from the Yosemite Valley. You can get the best view of the Bridalveil Fall and the valley from the Yosemite Tunnel View point (see the above pictures). Lower Yosemite Falls is a short and easy walk but hiking to the top is little challenging.

Accommodation: Either stay at the valley, which is a little expensive or at the small town called Mariposa, which is roughly 1 hour drive away depending on the traffic and snow conditions. Be careful the restaurants and grocery shops in this town may close early.

Getting there: Roughly 3 and half hours drive from San Francisco International Airport and add time for resting and photos. There are two ways to enter the valley when you come from San Francisco. Taking road 120 and then scenic Big Oak Flat road to the valley (see the photos below) and the other is through Mariposa.

Other important notes: Carry snow chains if you are going in winter. I got away without snow chains but I would definitely take them with me next time.
Parking at the valley can be very tricky during Firefall viewing days, so come early and park. Drop me a message if you think this information is helpful or have any comments. Feel free to download any photos. 🙂



Author: Chanaka Keerthisinghe

Ph.D in Electrical Engineering, Photography, Mountaineering, Hiking

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