Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Half Dome Permit
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
One of the most beautiful and spiritually uplifting areas on this planet happens to be right here in my home state of California.
Of course I’m talking about Yosemite.
Yosemite has a plethora of wonders to offer everybody from the extreme outdoor adventure enthusiast to the casual weekend hiker. And today we’re talking about one of the most iconic places in Yosemite and the gut wrenching hike that it offers.
Half Dome, located in the heart of the Yosemite Valley is a sight people the world-over recognize, even those never having stepped foot inside the state, let alone the country. Half Dome is easily recognizable as it looks like something cut right through a massive rock dome and the aftermath left what we refer to today.
George Anderson was the first documented to have reached the summit in 1875, and in the process laying the predecessor of today’s well-known cable route.
Much of the hike to Half Dome is an adventure into Wilderness, and, while there’s nothing you can do to guarantee your success in gaining access to the area, below you’ll find some tips to increase your chances getting the half dome permit and enjoying this amazing hike.
Here’s How To Get A Half Dome Permit
I have had a lot of people come to me asking for help applying for Half Dome permits. Half Dome permits are offered through a lottery every March 1-31. The lottery means that the park chooses, at random, who is granted a permit and who is denied. Even though the formal lottery is currently closed, there is still a way to get permits! Here is a step-by-step guide to applying for permits during open cable season (late May through mid-October).
- You can only book Half Dome Permits 2 days in advance. For example, if I want to hike Half Dome on July 31st, I can apply online at earliest July 29th between midnight and 1pm, and at latest July 30th between midnight and 1pm.
- You can only apply during midnight and 1pm.
- For the best chance of getting permits, apply at midnight 2 days before desired date! Using the previous example, if the 29th is a Thursday, remember that midnight of the 29th is often thought of as Wednesday night (the 28th).
Reading this during pre- or open-lottery (March or earlier)? Click here for tips on having a better chance of getting chosen!
Step 1: Sign up for a recreation.gov account
- Go to www.recreation.gov
- Click on “Sign In or Sign Up” in the upper right-hand corner
- Click “Continue” under “New Customer”
- Fill in your information
Step 2: Applying for a Permit
- Once you have filled out your information and logged on, click on “Find Places & Activities”
- Under “Where?” type in “Half Dome” and select “Cables on Half Dome”
- Click on “Check Availability” for Cables on Half Dome
- After reading the “Half Dome 2014 Information”, scroll down and click on “Enter Date”
- Fill out your desired entry date and number of people going (yourself included). I have filled out a random date and number of people as an example. Remember, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you can only apply 2 days in advance of your desired date between midnight and 1pm.
- Once you have filled this out, click “Find Permits”
- Click on “Book Permits” to find out if you are able to buy permits for this date
- If you have been accepted, congratulations! If not, be flexible and keep trying!
- Next, you will be prompted to fill out your payment information. Once you have paid, your permits will be emailed to you.
Tips for Getting a Half Dome Hike Permit – A Little Secret
If you weren’t able to get a permit here’s a tip that is particularly suited for early risers. If you enjoy waking up before dawn so you can watch the sunrise, then you may be in luck. People have said over the years that if they were on the hiking trail at Half Dome before dawn, even without a permit, that for the most part the rangers are not going to bother you.
If the rangers head out first thing in the morning and you’re already out on the trail doing your thing, then it’s likely that they will not ask you to leave per their permit policy. Now, this really doesn’t fall neatly into a list of tips for actually getting a Half Dome hike permit, but it is a top tip. There are some things you should keep in mind if you’re going to try this approach for hiking the Half Dome including:
- This is not a guarantee. It’s possible that rangers could still ask you to leave.
- You need to be respectful to the rangers if they approach you. This should be obvious.
- You need to help protect the environment by cleaning up after yourself. This goes for everywhere you camp, hike or kayak in nature!
Enjoy Yourself On the Half Dome Hike:
However you go about getting onto the trail, make sure to appreciate where you are at the time. This is a world-renowned location for a lot of reasons, and it’s a special experience. Take it all in for yourself by being in the moment.
For more information:
Yosemite National Park: (209) 372-0200
Wilderness Information Office: (209) 372-0826