Yosemite Firefall Photo Trip

Capture moonbows at night in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park, CA
May 9-13 2024

This trip is your chance to see a rainbow at night. That's right - moonbows are real, and they're spectacular.

For three days you'll experience first hand one of our nation's most striking national parks. Then, at after dark, we'll visit different majestic waterfalls around the park to see the full moon work its magic in the mist.

I'll organize and book everything for you, and show you my favorite spots in one of my favorite national parks. This trip is perfect for photographers - moonbows can only be seen by taking a picture with a camera that lets you control your aperture, ISO, and shutter settings. Plus, during the day, I want to help you get some unforgettable shots and upgrade your photography skills. I'll show you the best the park has to offer.

It's a phenomena that only happens during a full moon during the spring. Plus you get to the experience Yosemite at night after the crowds have left.

$1799 + Cost of your flight to SFO ($350-500 for major US cities)

What's included:

  • Book and manage your flight to SFO (you can book your own, if you prefer)
  • 4 nights lodging (double occupancy)
  • Transportation during the trip
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and water each day
  • Park admission
  • Guided hikes and drives
  • Photography coaching
  • 1 pre-trip virtual group session to configure your camera
  • 1 post trip virtual group photo editing tutorial on your photos

What's not included:

  • Transportation in your home city
  • Food and drinks on your flights
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Camera and gear (You can rent from me for extra)

What are moonbows?

Every year in the spring Yosemite's waterfalls come to life as the snow in the high Sierra melts. During the full moon in April, May, and June as the moon tracks across the sky, it creates a moonbow in the mist for fleeting moments. They can only be seen with a camera.

The angle between the moon, the waterfall, and the photographer needs to be just right. If there are cloudy skies, they don't appear. If the waterfalls are too low, they can't materialize. They truly are one of nature's fleeting moments.

What Will We Do?

My top priority is to help you get a picture of a moonbow. I also want to help you to take your photos to the next level. Yosemite is the perfect place to practice and learn.

During the day, I'll show you around either on foot or in the car. We'll be hiking and enjoying the outdoors. I'll also help folks with their photos - settings, composition, scouting, planning for editing, and more.

At night, we'll find some great spots to view the moonbow phenomenon and I'll help you set up your shots. Of course, if you'd rather explore on your own, feel free!

Day 1 - May 9:
Arrive in the evening to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for pickup
Check in to 3-star hotel near the airport

Day 2 - May 10:
Breakfast at Cafe182 or similar
Drive to Yosemite National Park in a van
Pickup lunch in Mariposa at The Hideout Saloon or similar
Arrive at the park and hike to Mirror Lake (4-5 miles)
If weather is clear, we'll eat at Basecamp and view moonbows after. If weather doesn't cooperate, we'll eat at Yosemite View Lodge
Hike to Lower Yosemite Falls (1-2 miles)
Stay at Yosemite View Lodge or Yosemite Cedar Lodge

Day 3 - May 11
Sunrise at Tunnel View, one of the most beautiful places in Yosemite
Breakfast at The River Restaurant
Explore the park - hike up the Mist Trail (4-5 miles)
Lunch at Basecamp Eatery
Drive up to Olmsted Point and Tenaya Lake (snow permitting)
Dinner at Yosemite View Lodge or Basecamp based on what we did Day 2
Moonbows at Cook's Meadow

Day 4 -May 12
Breakfast at The River Restaurant
Activities are flexible! We can do something that got rained out, visit the sequoias, drive up to the High Sierras, etc.
Sunset from Glacier Point (snow permitting)
Dinner in Mariposa at The Alley Lounge or similar
Drive back to San Francisco
Check into a 3-star hotel near the airport

Day 5 - May 13
Bagels & Pastry breakfast
Drop off at San Francisco International Airport

$1799 + Cost of your flight to SFO ($350-500 for major US cities)

What else do you need to know?

Moonbows aren't guaranteed

The park might not have enough water over the winter for the waterfalls to create enough mist. The clouds could block the moon. There might not be enough wind to create mist. Luckily, Yosemite is still gorgeous.

How big will the group be?

I have room for 5-7 other nature enthusiasts, plus myself.

How will we get around?

I’m renting a van (depending on how many people come). It's big enough to hold all our stuff and ourselves. While we’re in Yosemite, it’ll be parked. Getting around will involve walking. Yosemite has shuttles, but they may not operate in the winter.

How strenuous is the hiking?

Depending on our daily plans and weather, we could hike up to 10 or 12 miles a day. Most of the valley is flat, but there may be a hike or two that involves some strenuous elevation change and a little bit of scrambling. The elevation in the valley is 4,000 feet above sea level, so acclimating to altitude isn't necessary.

What will the weather be like?

Temperatures will probably be between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but we could see rain, snow, shine, and anything in between.

Do I have to have a nice camera or be a good photographer?

All skill levels and cameras are welcome, whether that's a smart phone or DSLR.

However, the colors in a moonbow can only be seen by using a DSLR camera or equivalent.

What food options are there?

All the restaurants I've picked have gluten free and vegan / vegetarian options. Food in the park is pretty limited. I’ll also have snacks and water for during the day and the car ride.

Can I get a room to myself?

If you'd like a single room, let me know. it will add approximately $350 to the cost of your trip.

Can I book my own flight?

Yes! If you'd like to book your own flights or find your own way to San Francisco, you can do that yourself. I will give you a time that you need to arrive by, and you are responsible for getting there by that time. If you are late and the group needs to head to the park, I won't be able to refund your trip.

What happens if you need to cancel?

If you I will be asking everyone to pay in full by Mar 1. If you need to cancel after that, I'll refund your entire trip, minus 50% of the cost of your flight.

If you cancel before Mar 1, I will return your deposit if I can fill your spot on the trip.

$1799 + Cost of your flight to SFO ($350-500 for major US cities)