It’s iconic. It is impressive. It’s Yosemite’s Half Dome. While there are more than enough reasons to visit Yosemite, Half Dome, towering 5,000 feet above the valley floor, may be the greatest attraction.
The half-granite rock looks amazing during sunrise and sunset, making it a beacon for all who visit. However, to hike it, you must secure a Yosemite Half Dome permit, limiting how many hikers can reach the top each day.
Like in years past, Half Dome permits are required to reach the summit this year. The mindset here is to regulate and ensure as safe conditions as possible for those trekking up and down the cables. From someone who has done it twice, a traffic jam on the cables is about the last thing you want. (Pro tip: Sunrise on Half Dome is the way to do it.)
Below, we’ll dive into how to navigate the Half Dome lottery so you give yourself the best chance at hiking Half Dome!
Securing a Yosemite Half Dome Permit
There are two ways to obtain a permit. The first is the preseason lottery (225 permits available per day), where you can specify what dates you’d like to apply for. This is geared more toward planners and those scheduling trips.
The second is the daily lottery (50+ permits available daily), allowing you to apply two days in advance. This allows ~275 people per day to hike Half Dome.
Half Dome Permits System and Understanding the Half Dome Lottery
March 1st – March 31st: Starting March 1st and going throughout the month, you can apply for the preseason Half Dome Lottery.
Mid-April (dates unknown yet): Half Dome Lottery results announced.
Mid-April: Confirm results. If you won the preseason lottery, you still have to say you will take them and then pay for them. (At this point, you’re either on your way to hiking Half Dome…or you’re not, and then you must dive into the daily lottery.)
May 24th – October 15: Applications for the daily lottery are a go. I’ve been successful multiple times with the daily lottery. As you’d assume, weekdays give you the best chance. Weekends are the worst.
May 24th – October 15 (weather dependent): Half Dome Cables are up. (Check current conditions as things may change.) Low snow conditions so far in the Sierras mean it could be up earlier.
October 15: Cables are taken down.
Best of luck with your Yosemite Half Dome permits as you prepare for one of the most incredible hikes you can imagine!
More information is available here.
Until next time, adventurers, take care and be safe.
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