Learn which weekends call for reservations. This year, to reduce congestion, Yosemite National Park visitors who want to experience the park’s unusual “Firefall” phenomena will need to make a reservation.

The annual spectacle takes place when the park’s Horsetail Fall is backlit by the setting sun, making it glow as though it’s on fire. This optical illusion makes it appear as though a torrent of lava is streaming down the eastern side of the renowned El Capitan.

The spectacle, which usually takes place in mid-to-late February, is breathtaking to witness and draws huge crowds. In fact, in just one day last year, there were almost 2,400 visits.

The NPS is requiring reservations for entry to the park during the weekends of February 10 to 12, February 17 to 19, and February 24 to 26 to manage the crowds, and whether or not individuals want to see Horsetail Fall. Mondays through Thursdays will not require reservations.

Every day-use reservation is anticipated to be made available online at 8 a.m. PT two days beforehand. When the sun sets behind Horsetail Fall, it can glow orange, giving the impression that it is on fire.

Only on evenings with a clear sky, when the waterfall is flowing, and when the sun is at the proper angle in mid-to-late February can this unusual lighting display occur.

Due to a large number of visitors this event draws to a constrained location, there will be challenges with parking, traffic, and safety, as well as effects on the region’s natural and cultural resources.

No further bookings are required for visitors who already hold a day-use permit, a specific camping or accommodation reservation, or a business usage license.

According to the NPS, guests can park at the Yosemite Falls parking lot and walk 1.5 kilometers to the event’s viewing spot next to the El Capitan Picnic Area.

With a complimentary shuttle service, additional parking is accessible in Curry Village or Yosemite Village. Although the NPS is reducing people for “Firefall,” summertime visits to Yosemite won’t need reservations.