YOSEMITE, CA - FEBRUARY 24: General views of the Yosemite Firefall natural phenomenon at Horsetail Fall ending in a pinkish hue on February 24, 2021 in Yosemite, California.  (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
CNN  — 

Sun and water can cooperate to make a visit to Yosemite National Park in California potentially extra special.

It’s a glorious, orange-tinged nature show called “Firefall.” For the 2022 season, the first one is coming up this February. (A possible second one occurs in fall.)

The lava-lookalike spectacle happens at Horsetail Fall, which flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, according to the National Park Service.

It’s a small waterfall, and it normally flows only during winter. But it can make a big visual impact if waterfall flow and sunlight come together in the right mix.

Reservations? No. Restrictions? Yes

The park says the tentative dates for the next Firefall are February 10 to February 28.

Because of the pandemic, Yosemite went to a reservation system for February 2021. Things are different this year – no reservations are needed.

However, they do have restrictions in place for viewing because of the popularity of the event.

Viewing times are from noon to 7 p.m. for the dates above, and the rules for parking, driving, dropping off passengers and walking change during that period. Click here to see a map with those details if you plan to go.

You must also wear a mask while there. You’re advised to bring warm clothes and a flashlight or headlamp.

It was snowy in the Sierra Nevadas earlier this winter, so be sure to check the park’s website for possible road closures before you head out.

Show is not guaranteed

Yosemite says the dazzling effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing. Even some haze or a bit of cloudiness can ruin the effect. Mother Nature provides no promises.

That works both ways, though. Fall is usually dry, and there is usually no waterfall flow at Horsetail. But visitors in October 2021 had a spectacular show after the area got heavy rainfall.

Horsetail Fall is about a one and a half mile walk each way from the closest parking to the viewpoint near the El Capitan Picnic area.

A general view of Yosemite’s Firefall natural phenomenon at Horsetail Fall on February 24, 2021. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)