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Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Climbing Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Half Dome from meadow picture in Yosemite
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Half Dome at sunset picture in Yosemite
Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Climbing Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Half Dome from meadow picture in Yosemite
Half Dome cables picture in Yosemite
Top of Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Half Dome at sunset picture in Yosemite

Price & Hours

  • $30 for seven-day park pass per car; $25 per motorcycle
  • 24/7

Details

  • Hiking, Natural Wonders, Sightseeing Type
  • More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.3
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    2.0
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

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Hiking Yosemite's Half Dome Cables Route has been described as unforgettable and even life-changing by travelers. But this expedition is not for the faint of heart. The trail is about 14 to 16 miles long and features elevation gains totaling 4,800 feet (for reference, the elevation gain on the Mist Trail is between 1,000 and 2,000 feet, depending on which waterfall you visit). On this hike, the challenge begins immediately with a steep ascent up the Mist Trail, which serves as a good litmus test to see if you're in adequate condition for the remaining journey. The hike then continues to the top of Nevada Fall, followed by a long, flat section through Yosemite Valley. When you finally reach the base of the dome, a steep rocky climb finally takes you to the Half Dome Cables, a vertical, exposed rock face scalable by two steel cables.

If you're afraid of heights or are not in excellent physical condition, don't ascend the cables. You can still enjoy many of the dome's tamer sections, such as the trip to Nevada Fall. If you are going to try the entire hike, you'll need to allot at least 12 hours. The National Park Service recommends you leave just before or at dawn, and advises you to bring all necessary hiking equipment, including durable hiking boots, a flashlight and good grip gloves for the cables. You'll also need at least a gallon of water, and don't rely on park facilities for hydration or a bathroom break (the NPS suggests bringing your own toilet paper).

Recent travelers said this hike is a very strenuous but an incredibly rewarding journey. Hikers who have completed the trek echo NPS advisories: bring plenty of water, boots with great traction (the granite going up the cables are slippery) and gloves for the cables (those who didn't reported their hands burning after the climb). It's also suggested to bring plenty of food and snacks, as travelers said you will be hiking for a very, very long time. Some even recommended, if you can, training for the hike ahead of time to prepare for Half Dome's tough elevation gains. Half Dome becomes incredibly dangerous to climb when rain, and especially thunderstorms, are in the forecast. If either of those start to occur during your hike, the NPS strongly advises hikers to turn around and leave the area. It's also important to know that the summit can be between 15 to 20 degrees colder than Yosemite Valley, and at times windy, so bring a jacket or windbreaker for the top.

Half Dome is generally accessible from late May to October. A permit is required if you wish to hike to the top of Half Dome and a maximum of 300 hikers are allowed each day. Permits are distributed by an NPS lottery; there is a preseason lottery and a daily lottery, and you can find more information about the lottery drawings and requirements on the NPS website (some fees apply). If you aren't driving, you can take the shuttle to Happy Isles, stop Np. 16, which is three-quarters of a mile from the Mist Trail trailhead. The application fee for the permit costs $10; if you are selected you are required to pay an additional $10. For more information about hiking Half Dome, visit the park's website

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Hotels Nearby

  • Thing to Do
  • Hotel
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel

The Majestic Yosemite Hotel ...

  • 2.1 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
Curry Village

Curry Village ...

  • 1.9 Miles Away
  • 1.0-star Hotel Class
The Ahwahnee

The Ahwahnee ...

  • 2.1 Miles Away
  • 4.0-star Hotel Class
See all hotels in Yosemite »

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#1 Yosemite Valley Unless you are solely planning backcountry expeditions during your trip to Yosemite, chances are you'll end up in Yosemite Valley at one point or another. That's because Yosemite ... Read more » Photograph by Chanon Kanjanavasoontara / Getty Images

#2 Tunnel View Outlook Along with Glacier Point, Tunnel View is widely considered to be the most popular outlook in all of Yosemite. From its vantage point, travelers get an eyeful of the majestic ... Read more » f11photo / Getty Images

#3 Glacier Point Glacier Point is considered one of the best and most comprehensive lookouts in Yosemite. Visitors regularly describe Glacier Point's sweeping, panoramic vistas as "breathtaking," calling it a truly can ... Read more » Powerfocusfotografie / Getty Images

#4 Half Dome Hiking Yosemite's Half Dome Cables Route has been described as unforgettable and even life-changing by travelers. But this expedition is not for the faint of heart. The trail is ... Read more » Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

#5 Tuolumne Meadows In the east section of the park you'll find Tuolumne Meadows, known for being one of the Sierra Nevada's largest high-elevation meadows at 8,600 feet. Here, you'll find ... Read more » David H. Carriere / Getty Images

#6 Mist Trail The Mist Trail is one of the park's most popular trails. What makes The Mist Trail so unique is not its sites Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall but how ... Read more » Anna Gorin / Getty Images

#7 Mariposa Grove "Giant" seems to be an understatement for this expansive grove of Sequoia trees in the southernmost section of Yosemite. Mariposa is one of three groves in the park where visitors can ... Read more » Scott_Walton / Getty Images

Yosemite Valley picture in Yosemite
Tunnel View picture in Yosemite
Glacier Point picture in Yosemite
Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Mist Trail picture in Yosemite
Mariposa Grove picture in Yosemite
Yosemite Valley picture in Yosemite
Tunnel View picture in Yosemite
Glacier Point picture in Yosemite
Half Dome picture in Yosemite
Golden Tuolumne Meadows picture in Yosemite
Mist Trail picture in Yosemite
Mariposa Grove picture in Yosemite

For an excellent photo op in Yosemite Valley, head over to Valley View You can find this beautiful view right off of Northside Drive near Pohono Bridge.  Photograph by Chanon Kanjanavasoontara / Getty Images

Tunnel View is the most popular lookout spot in Yosemite. From here, you can see top sights such as Half Dome and El Capitan, both of which are located in Yosemite Valley f11photo / Getty Images

Glacier Point's summit offers spectacular views of the Yosemite Valley, particularly Half Dome. Powerfocusfotografie / Getty Images

Half Dome is probably Yosemite's most famous rock formation, towering at more than 8,800 feet above Yosemite Valley. Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Tuolumne Meadows is known for being one of the Sierra Nevada's highest elevation meadows at 8,600 feet above sea level.  David H. Carriere / Getty Images

Easily one of Yosemite's most popular trails, the Mist Trail takes visitors right up alongside Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Mariposa Grove is the largest seqouia grove in Yosemite, housing about 500 mature sequoia trees. Scott_Walton / Getty Images

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