For two weeks every February, the setting sun reflects off the waters of Yosemite National Park’s Horsetail Falls, creating the twilight illusion of fire cascading down El Capitan. The incandescent Firefall is truly a sight to behold, drawing thousands of visitors to the park each year.
Due to the Firefall’s growing popularity, Yosemite has developed a new permit plan to alleviate parking congestion and create a better visitor experience in 2018. The park will issue 300 free parking permits per day from February 12–26, which will grant travelers access to the prime viewing area on Northside Drive between the Yosemite Valley Lodge and El Capitan Crossover. It’s one pass per car, so you can load up your friends to catch a glimpse of the glow.
You can book one of 250 permits online and redeem it at The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village on the day you intend to view the falls. Park officials are also giving out 50 first-come, first-served permits per day at the same location from 9am to 3pm.
If you missed your chance to get a permit, don’t worry—you can still witness the fiery fountain. Visitors can park outside the event zone at the Yosemite Falls day use parking area and at El Capitan Meadow and walk to the viewing area or take the free shuttle to Stop #7. For any of those options, be sure to bring comfortable shoes, as the walk is a little over a mile. You can also book a guided bus tour to see the Firefall. The Yosemite Area Transit System (YARTS) is an easy way to get around the park—note that the closest stop to the event is located at Yosemite Valley Lodge.