See a Firefall in Winter

Yosemite National Park, California
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Yosemite National Park, California
Firefall

Horsetail Falls catches the sunset. (Photo by RC Designer/Flickr)

Winter’s plummeting temps and low-angle sunlight bring a little extra pizzazz to Yosemite’s iconic waterfalls. To see an ephemeral, flame-red “firefall” pouring from El Capitan’s eastern face, head toward Horsetail Fall in the second half of February. When conditions are right—high water, fair skies, and a clear sunset—the sun strikes Horsetail just so, lighting it up in glowing shades of red and orange that look just like tumbling lava. For the best views, start at El Capitan Picnic Area and stroll east into the snowy meadow for a good vantage. Season Mid- to late February

Keep It Clean

Yosemite is one of three parks attempting to go zero-landfill, thanks to a partnership between Subaru and the National Park Service. How can you help? Minimize waste by planning ahead. Cold weather tip: Pack bulk hot chocolate instead of single-serve packets. Little changes can go a long way.