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Yosemite Half Dome Permit Help!
June 12, 2011 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Yosemite Half Dome hiking permits!?

My friend and I are headed out to Yosemite in less than 4 weeks. Just found out that you need a permit to hike half dome. Any ideas of how to get these permits? Recreation.gov is exhausted, got my name on a blog or two... hoping something will turn up. Anyone by chance have any additional ideas on how to get these? Looking for just one day between July 15-20.

No worries, I understand that people can't resell them, but can turn them in if they are not planning on using them. Not trying to rip off the system here, just wanna get a chance to experience the park while we're out there.

Feel free to memail me.
Thanks!
posted by melizabeth to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
What? Really? Where did you hear this? My family is also headed to Yosemite in less than 4 weeks and I had not heard about permits.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:27 PM on June 12, 2011


Yes, it's to hike the half dome trail check out this:
posted by melizabeth at 7:29 PM on June 12, 2011


oops Permits
posted by melizabeth at 7:30 PM on June 12, 2011


Yosemite is beautiful and huge. There are tons of things to do besides climbing Half Dome, many of which might be more fun and interesting anyway. Half Dome is super crowded, pretty physically challenging, quite dangerous if the conditions are bad, and is a long steep slog. It's not that it's not beautiful and all, but I really don't see it as a mandatory part of a Yosemite experience.

The NPS permit page says that backpackers with wilderness permits can get a half dome permit with no additional reservation required. I'm not quite sure how that works, but it may well be easier to get a backpacking permit, either in advance or trying to pick one up the same day (they set aside a portion for this). See the wilderness permit information page. It seems you need a wilderness permit specifically for the Half Dome area, so this might be a tough catch, but it's a possibility.

Also, note that the Half Dome cables are currently down due to they heavy snowpack. There are no plans to get them up before June 17, and it could take substantially longer depending on the weather. I'd like to think the cables would be up before July, but it's entirely possible that the slope won't be accessible yet.
posted by zachlipton at 8:25 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


In case they really have decided to limit people on the Half Dome trail, may I recommend Yosemite Falls as an alternative?
posted by smirkette at 9:47 PM on June 12, 2011


Check Craigslist. People aren't supposed to resell them, but they do.
posted by brynna at 10:28 PM on June 12, 2011


Seconding craigslist.
posted by samthemander at 10:44 PM on June 12, 2011


Because the cables are down, you only need a pass if you plan to stay the night. Regularly, if the cables were up, you'd get a wilderness pass to stay the night and it would include your half dome permit.

In order to get an overnight pass, you need to know the name of the trailhead where you plan to start, and where you plan to exit because the Ranger who takes your order (and the form itself) will absolutely require both. For Half Dome, you'd want to probably start and end at Happy Isles and sleep overnight at the Little Yosemite Valley. It's appx 4 miles to the little valley and another 4 miles from there to the top of half dome.

They reserve 40% of all passes for people to purchase on the day of the trip. In fact, you can usually get the overnight pass a day beforehand too (as I did 3 weeks ago for a party member who joined last minute.) This is not a guarantee of availability, but it does give you a fighting chance.

If you plan to do the hike in one day (~16 miles roundtrip), you will need no pass of any kind. Just park somewhere & get to the trailhead. Might I recommend going up on the mist trail and back down on the John Muir trail. This way you get to see the most on your trip and actually it shortens the 16 miles a little bit. Make sure you take the map with you, it will make that suggestion easier to follow. You will get wet going up the mist trail.

As a final note- The cables are usually supported with 2x4 like wood which act as steps. While the cables are "down" officially, they are actually permanently mounted up there. The wood is not up there, but the actual cables are and many people still get to the top, even now, by clipping themselves to the cables and using them as they climb up. You know your skill level and whether or not this is something you are capable of doing. I myself made it to the top of the sub dome before throwing in the towel. It was all snow, no trail or switchbacks, when I made the attempt 3 weeks ago. However several members of my party were able to get to the cables, clip in and and summit even with the snow and water. The Rangers of course absolutely warn hikers and they expect you to know your limits. That being said, it is an absolutely gorgeous hike, well worth the 16 mile trek.
posted by MansRiot at 6:05 AM on June 13, 2011


Backpacker's most recent issue provided a little extra info on how to obtain permits on the day of your trip.

1) Arrive early, there may be a line. You want to get your pick of permits available.
2) Do your homework. Have multiple itineraries planned, just in case.
3) Be very clear about what your abilities are. The Rangers want to make sure they aren't going to have to come rescue you.
4) Don't be wearing all brand new gear, which will make the Rangers think that the closest you've come to the great outdoors is your local REI.
5) Good luck!
posted by jph at 7:26 AM on June 13, 2011


If you plan to do the hike in one day (~16 miles roundtrip), you will need no pass of any kind.

Starting this year, you need a permit to go beyond the base of the subdome whenever the cables are up. The parks service is trying to eliminate the backup of 800+ hikers lined up at the cables. The cables aren't up yet (they are usually up by Memorial Day weekend), but it's entirely possible they will be up by the time the OP gets there if we get a little warmer temperatures.

The wood is not up there, but the actual cables are and many people still get to the top, even now, by clipping themselves to the cables and using them as they climb up. You know your skill level and whether or not this is something you are capable of doing. I myself made it to the top of the sub dome before throwing in the towel. It was all snow, no trail or switchbacks, when I made the attempt 3 weeks ago. However several members of my party were able to get to the cables, clip in and and summit even with the snow and water.

Please do not do this unless you really and truly know your stuff and have experience ascending steep slopes in winter conditions. This is what the Dome looks like now. Pretty slippery to my eyes. A man slipped and died off the Mist Trail last month. It is gorgeous, but in my opinion not worth the risk if the cables are down and the rock is covered in slippery snow.

The falls are reportedly amazing right now with record high flows. If Half Dome doesn't work out, why not check them out instead?
posted by zachlipton at 10:07 AM on June 13, 2011


The dates of OP's trip and the dates for the cables to remain down coincide, thus, as long as the cables are down, no day pass is required. If that changes, then obviously so does the need for a pass.

The Mist Trail starts about one mile in from the trailhead at Happy Isles, is wet year round because it climbs up just below and beside a waterfall and is miles away from the start of the half dome trail. Further- the Mist Trail has nothing to do with Half Dome other than it's one of the trails that gets a hiker up to the half dome trail, which is itself another few miles in length. The two are separated by ~6 miles.

I already explained that climbing the dome itself when the cables are down isn't recommended and that one should know their own limits. My post did not need a fine print nor an over sensationalizing of the facts. A man dying at the Mist Trail does not equal trouble at Half Dome. I was trying to give facts, not opinion- The Summit is absolutely attainable if you are experienced and prepared. Know that there is still snow up there. Know that it is summited every day but clipping in will be your friend. Know that the Rangers recommend not attempting it.
posted by MansRiot at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2011


Thanks everyone for the comments!

We are headed to Yosemite in mid-July when I would think that the cables will be up. We would need a permit - I was thinking of going to wait in line, but in the meantime I've been scouting out permits online via blogs. Craigslist half dome posts always get flagged. The wilderness permit idea is something that I have also been considering, but I'm not very familiar with the hikes that include half dome. Can anyone direct me to a route that includes half dome where I could qualify to get the permit to be included?
posted by melizabeth at 9:21 PM on June 13, 2011


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