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Horsetail Falls
   Mariposa County, California, United States

This waterfall has been confirmed by the World Waterfall Database, has been mapped and its height has been approximated but exact measurements have not yet been confirmed.
Horsetail Falls is perhaps the most well known ephemeral waterfall in Yosemite National Park. The falls drain from the sloping east side of monolithic El Capitan and plunge a sheer 1,400 feet to the talus slopes at its base. Because of the very small size of the drainage basin, the falls flow for no more than two or three months out of the year when the winter snowpack begins to melt, but rarely is more than a thin wisp of water ever present.

The falls achieved notoriety due to the phenomena of the Fire-fall. Each year in February the setting sun shines at just the right angle that the last rays of direct light illuminate the face of the falls. When viewed from east of the waterfall, this makes the falling water appear as if it were molten lava tumbling down the face of the cliff. Photographers the world over are known to flock to Yosemite to witness this event, and while not necessarily a rare occurrence the fact that the weather must cooperate within a window of no more than 3 weeks time makes it a spectacle not frequently seen.
Seasonal Discharge
This waterfall occurs along a stream that is known to vary greatly in volume and as a result may not flow consistently year round or may dry out completely during certain periods.


  • Also Known as: El Capitan Falls
  • Horsetail Falls is the Official name of this waterfall

Horsetail Falls is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

Additional Nearby Waterfalls

Name of Waterfall Distance
Eagle Creek Cascade 0.8 mi / 1.27 km
Ribbon Fall 1.12 mi / 1.8 km
Bridalveil Fall 1.4 mi / 2.24 km
Columbia Cascade 1.57 mi / 2.51 km
Fissure Falls 1.92 mi / 3.08 km
Sentinel Fall 1.97 mi / 3.15 km
Yosemite Falls 2.48 mi / 3.97 km
Widow's Tears 2.68 mi / 4.28 km
Staircase Falls 2.75 mi / 4.4 km
Silver Strand Falls 2.9 mi / 4.63 km


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