Half Dome in Yosemite: Tips for the Hike

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Updated 4/11/2018

One of the preeminent Yosemite experiences, for those in-shape and determined enough for it, is the trek up to the crown of 8,800-foot Half Dome, that defining granite monolith overlooking Yosemite Valley. A Scenic Wonders cabin is a great launching pad for this unforgettable adventure.

Half Dome Elevation: How Long is the Hike?


The round-trip hike, 14 to 16 miles long, includes an elevation gain of 4,800 feet. The route commences along the Merced River and passes beautiful Vernal and Nevada falls before entering the Little Yosemite Valley (where some camp overnight to break up the journey). As you tramp higher, the views expand and Half Dome looms all the closer. The ultimate push to the summit comes with the aid of bolted cables that help you negotiate a steep 400-foot rock face. It’s the final gauntlet before the epic panorama available at the top.

Do I Need a Permit to Hike Yosemite?


Permits are required for hiking to the top of Half Dome when the cables are installed (roughly from Memorial Day to Columbus Day). Preseason and daily lotteries help allocate them. Check out the Yosemite National Park website for details. Only those fit enough for a rigorous daylong hike should attempt Half Dome. Avoid the trek if the forecast calls for storms, or if you unexpectedly see cumulus massing. Under wet conditions, leave the summit for another day—both the cables and the granite itself can be dangerously slippery. Remember to bring enough water (a gallon per person) as well as snacks, warm clothing, a topographic map, and compass. Wear sturdy hiking boots. Don’t share trailside nibbles with wildlife such as jays or ground squirrels, and be aware that the Half Dome route, as everywhere in Yosemite, is black-bear country. The Park Service maintains a nice web page with a full rundown on the hike—check it out! If you’re up for the challenge, hiking to the top of Half Dome is exhilarating—a chance to commune with one of Yosemite’s greatest landmarks and sample the park’s sublime backcountry. Make Your Yosemite Reservations Today If you’re planning to go hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite this year, consider making your reservations with Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders. We offer Yosemite reservations within the gates of the park. With one of our cozy cabins, condominiums, or homes, your Yosemite accommodations will be just minutes from your favorite Yosemite hikes. Give us a call at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to learn about our rentals and to make your Yosemite reservations today. Yosemite National Park Blog Scenic Wonders’ Yosemite blog provides the latest news related to Yosemite National Park.  By reading our blog, you’ll stay up to date on activities, accommodations, and more. Photo credit: Bonzo McGrue




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