YOSEMITE — If you plan to be part of the spectacular yearly event that takes place at Horsetail Fall in Yosemite National Park, you’ll want to know about a new program taking place this year from Feb. 12-26.
Park officials say the program has been created to improve the overall visitor experience as people gather to view the natural Horsetail Fall phenomenon that occurs each year in mid-February, when the sun’s light at sunset causes the waterfall on El Capitan to glow like it’s on fire.
Over the past several years, the popularity of viewing the Horsetail Fall phenomenon has grown significantly, with thousands of visitors coming to the park to experience this unique event. This has contributed to major traffic jams, with over 1,000 vehicles at one time and has created significant safety issues between pedestrians and motorists.
Based on visitor feedback on traffic and concerns over pedestrian safety, Yosemite National Park is trying a new approach to managing traffic for the Horsetail Fall phenomenon. This year, park officials are working in partnership with The Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite Conservancy, and Yosemite Hospitality to ensure public access and manage vehicles in the viewing area.
Yosemite National Park is creating an event zone inside Yosemite Valley, from the Yosemite Valley Lodge to El Capitan Crossover. Visitors will be able to enter the event zone and view Horsetail Fall by walking from El Capitan Meadow or the Yosemite Falls Parking Area, taking a naturalist-guided tour, or picking up a permit to park inside the event zone.
Within the event zone, the right-hand lane of the road will be converted to event parking for 300 vehicles. To park within the event zone, free parking permits will be required. Two hundred and fifty (250) free permits will be available through online reservations and 50 permits will be issued on a first come, first served basis each day.
Free parking reservations for each day of the event will be available online, beginning on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 9 a.m. PST. To book a parking reservation, click here.
Two hundred and fifty (250) parking reservations (a parking reservation is good for a carload of passengers) will be available for each day of the event through EventBrite. Fifty first-come, first-served permits will be available each day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village.
All online reservation holders will need to bring a printed copy of their reservation confirmation in person to The Ansel Adams Gallery between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to pick up their vehicle Parking Permit for the event on the day of the reservation. Any permits not picked up by 3 p.m will be forfeited.
Important Tips for Planning Your Visit to the Horsetail Fall Event:
- Visitors interested in walking to the event site are encouraged to park in the Yosemite Falls Day Parking Area, park at El Capitan Meadow, or ride the free park shuttle to Shuttle Stop #7 and walk into the event site approximately 1.2 miles one way.
- Yosemite Hospitality, Inc., the park’s primary concessioner, will be offering naturalist-guided tours each day for a fee to the Horsetail Fall Event. To learn more please visit https://www.travelyosemite.com.
- To reduce traffic congestion in the event zone and to ensure easy visitor access to Yosemite Valley, the park will convert Southside Drive to two-way traffic from El Capitan Crossover to Sentinel Bridge. No roadside parking will be permitted while two-way traffic is in place for the safety of both pedestrians and motorists.
- On Northside Drive, the left-hand traffic lane in the event zone will remain open as an exit route for YARTS buses, commercial buses, and other vehicles exceeding 25’ in length.
- Visitors who plan to get to Yosemite Valley using the Yosemite Area Regional Transit System (YARTS) should review the YARTS schedule at www.yarts.com to make sure that you do not miss the last bus of the day. The closest YARTS stop to the event is located at Yosemite Valley Lodge. YARTS buses will not be picking up visitors in the event zone.
“The Horsetail Fall Event Pilot Program is one of the many initiatives Yosemite National Park is piloting to address traffic congestion and visitor safety in the park,” stated Acting Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “We are continuously working to test new strategies to provide a quality experience for visitors to Yosemite National Park.”
This Pilot Program is part of a year-round effort to evaluate traffic and parking management to improve the visitor experience. After the Pilot Program for Horsetail Fall is completed this year, the park will evaluate its effectiveness and make adjustments for coming years.
For updated 24-hour road and weather conditions for Yosemite National Park, please call 209-372-0200 and press 1.