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Posted: 3:49 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017

Spectacular ‘firefall’ illusion at Yosemite offers stunningly rare photo op

Vernal Fall Trail Yosemite National Park
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Visitors to Yosemite National Park hike the Vernal Fall trail. Horsetail Fall is the waterfall where the 'firefall' illusion occurs in February,

By Shelby Lin Erdman

Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Tourists and nature lovers converge on California’s Yosemite National Park in February to see an amazing optical illusion that only appears once a year for a couple weeks in February.

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When the setting sun hits just the right angle, its rays strike the park’s Horsetail Fall, illuminating the falls and creating a stunning illusion of gushing lava or falling fire.


The appearance of the illusion depends on several conditions, including weather conditions and the water levels of the falls.

STUNNING! It's that time of the year again, when the setting sun hits Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park to create a gorgeous firefall. Thanks Sangeeta Dey Photography for the amazing photo!

Posted by KTVU Fox 2 on Monday, February 13, 2017

“The waterfall is bigger than it has been in a long time due to all the rain and snow we have received,” national park ranger Scott Gediman told KTLA.

More people know about the stunning phenomenon these days,  Gediman said.

“It has gained in popularity the last few years die to social media,” he said. “People come from all over the world to see this.”

Yosemite, located in the Sierra Nevada, is known for its waterfalls and its vast 1,200 square miles of wilderness area.