For 10 days in February, Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park becomes the focus of hundreds of visitors everyday at sunset when nature pulls off a doozy of a magic trick, as CNN called it.
As the sun sets, the waterfall magically turns bright orange and red, creating the illusion that it is lava flowing over the cliff. Spectators have to be quick because it only lasts a few minutes.
Two things are critical for the magic show to occur. It must be cloudless or at least any clouds that are present must create an opening to allow the sun to hit the waterfall just right. And water must be flowing down the 1,575-foot Horsetail Fall.
This year there's no problem with water.
“The waterfall is bigger than it has been in a long time due to all the rain and snow we have received,” National Park Service spokesman Scott Gediman told CNN.
“It has gained popularity the last few years due to social media. People come from all over the world to see this.”
The same sun angle occurs again in October but by then there is no water falling, so no magic.
The park suggests El Capitan's picnic area as being the best place to view the phenomenon. Rangers also suggest getting there early to get a spot.
“I’ve seen a few photographers get here at 9 a.m. to claim their spot for the sunset,” Gediman told CNN. “All we ask is you be respectful to the park and make sure what you packed … you pack up and take out."
Here is a 30 second time-lapse video of the Firefall event. This was captured over 15 minutes. Around 18 sec, you can see how the sunlight gradually narrows to a point where the setting sun casts its orange glow on the water. After the sun sets, the fall goes back to its normal color. This is straight out of my iphone camera with no edits. The actual event looks even more spectacular in person. A very special thanks to my talented friend David Ortega for his original music composition for this video. #Firefall #Firefall2017 #iphone7plus #abc7newsbayarea #natgeotravel #nbcbayarea #bbc_travel #cnn #kron4tv #usinterior #weatherchannel #sfgate
Over the weekend, Ray Lee was one of the first to capture the firefall this year, but he almost didn't make it.
"This trip almost didn’t happen due to the crazy road conditions at Yosemite," he wrote on Instagram. "There has been so much water that a lot of the roads were closed due to mudslides. Somehow we made it here at the very last minute. I still think the mist I saw last year was better, but it wasn’t bad this time either."