Half Dome Facts

~Half Dome Article

Here’s How You Do It:

*We do understand that some adventurers prefer to have the comfort that is offered in guided trips and are willing to pay more so note the links at the bottom of this page for those options.

First, get your permits to climb! CHECK THIS LINK IN FEBRUARY OR EARLIER for a same year trip. Yes, you need a permit whether you are day hiking (225 are allowed each day) to Half Dome or making it part of a backcountry (75 are allowed each day) excursion. Things have changed and you are no longer guaranteed (it’s now lottery) a permit to climb Half Dome along with your backcountry permit. Also, don’t get cheeky and think you can get permits from hikers coming down (not that we have had any personal experience with this). Permits are scanned electronically by a ranger at the area where you start the last leg toward the cables.

*If you live in the area and are down for risk, you can try for the allotment of daily permits.

Airports – San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Sacramento and more. This link will guide you.

CampingReserve 5 months in advance, on the 15th of each month at 7am. There are first come, first serve sites but these fill fast! Opening and closing camping dates vary from year to year. Curry Village is crowded during peak months but wonderful in terms of amenities (food, showers etc.)

***Camping can be found east of the park, about 1 1/2 -2 hours. See our Convict/Walker/Mono article. Walker Campground is free.

For destination camping, see this article.

~Location: 7.1 miles (14.2 round trip via Mist trail) or 8.2 miles (16.5 via John Muir trail) from the Happy Isles trailhead in the Curry Village area of Yosemite. Half Dome can be either a very strenuous day hike or a backpacking trip.

 ~Ranger Station: Wilderness Center is located in the main area of Yosemite Village. 209/372-0200 (then dial 3 then 5)

I’ve had the best luck calling the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station (209) 372-8410

 ~Nearest Town and Amenities: West side Mariposa, a lovely small town with tourist shops and restaurants. East side is Lee Vining and only accessible when weather permits highway #120 to be open. Lee Vining is several blocks long (short) but has wonderful tourist shops as well as a great little market and several motels/lodges.

 ~Campground/s: Depends on the trip plan. Curry Village has an immense number of sites but they book early. If you are backpacking, you may sleep overnight in your car, in the backpacker parking lot the night before your trip. Your backpacking permit allows you to camp along your route but there are a few restrictions. When you pick your permits up, a ranger will brief you.

*NO you may not camp on the top of Half Dome.

 ~Warnings: Water and bears. There is NO water once you pass into the Half Dome permit required area. In other words, if you are low on water, detour a mile over to the campsite at trail right, there will be a sign, and refill your water. There is nothing more miserable than Half Dome with not enough water.

Bears – Secure everything in your bear canister and set it 50 feet from your tent and be prepared to clap your hands and yell, “Go away, bear!” Don’t bang pots and pans together as this can be confused with cooking or a dinner call.

 ~Permits: YES. You must have a permit to climb Half Dome.

 ~Weather: Always check. http://www.weather.com/

 ~Suggestions: You must have a bear canister to store food on overnights. You can rent them for $5 at the ranger stations. If there is a hint of stormy weather, rethink getting on the cables to Half Dome. The granite becomes VERY slippery and dangerous.

~Guided Trips: Lasting Adventures is our number one pick as it is a non-profit company that has been guiding since 1996 and one of the On A Dime college kids guided for them summer of 2014 and said it is a stellar experience. Also you can check The ClymbSouthern Yosemite Mountain Guides and Browns Guides

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