New stricter rules for photographing Horsetail Falls

There are a new set of rules for photographing Horsetail Falls this year, just announced. The only place photographers will be allowed to set up tripods and photograph is the viewing area near the El Capitan Picnic Area. You must park at Yosemite Falls parking area and walk the 1.5 miles there, which means you must walk back in the dark the same 1.5 miles. One lane of Northside Drive will be closed to cars to allow pedestrians to walk. In the other lane, parking, stopping, or unloading passengers will be prohibited between Camp 4 and El Capitan Crossover. Southside Drive will be open to vehicles, but parking, stopping, and unloading passengers will be prohibited between El Capitan Crossover to Swinging Bridge Picnic Area.

We photographers are to blame for the even stricter rules this year. This is from the above link:

“Historically, the sunset backlight on Horsetail Fall was little known. However, in recent years, visitation around this event has increased dramatically. For example, on February 22, 2019, over 2,000 visitors viewing Horsetail Fall gathered in areas mostly lacking adequate parking and other facilities. Visitors spilled onto riverbanks, increasing erosion and trampling vegetation. As riverbanks filled, visitors moved into the Merced River, trampling sensitive vegetation and exposing themselves to unsafe conditions. Some undeveloped areas became littered with trash, and the lack of restrooms resulted in unsanitary conditions.”

It was inevitable that the NPS would have to take draconian measures to protect the valley from this event and I applaud them for doing so. But I feel sad for all the photographers who never got to photograph it. I was lucky enough to get a shot of it years ago. I was in Yosemite in February and had never heard of it. I was driving along Southside Drive and saw about five parked cars and a bunch of tripods, so of course I pulled over. And five minutes later snapped one of the iconic photos of it. All good things come to an end. Fortunately we are blessed with an incredibly beautiful planet and there are an infinite number of beautiful places to photograph.


Edited Post to correct link.

It has been exceptionally dry during Jan and so far Feb which are usually our wettest months. The National Park Service just posted this update in case anyone was thinking of going this year despite the new rules.

"Horsetail Fall has little to no water; some restrictions in effect February 13–27

Horsetail Fall has little to no water. Some changes to traffic patterns, parking, and visitor access will be in effect each afternoon February 13–27. Expect traffic delays if exiting Yosemite Valley around sunset."

Yeh, Mother Nature always has the last laugh…

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