Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a well-known rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.
We decided to hike to the top and come back down in one day. It is pretty easy to plan your hiking trip, except that you will need a permit to access the final section of cables that leads to the top.
Approximately 50 permits are available each day by lottery during the hiking season. The daily lotteries have an application period two days prior to the hiking date with a notification late that night. So, to hike on Saturday, you would apply on Thursday and receive in theory an email notification of results late on Thursday night, but it was actually on Friday for us.
Lodging and when to begin
Many lodging options are available to spend the night before the long day hike (10 to 12 hours). You might want to start hiking early, so prefer a place inside the park or outside close to the park. Make sure you have the permit before booking anything! We crossed paths with many people who started hiking early in the night to enjoy the sunrise and avoid noonday heat and traffic at the cables (often crowded in the summer). Check the weather forecast before your hike up Half Dome: if there is any predicted chance of rain or thunderstorms, or if storm clouds are observed in the vicinity of Half Dome or the nearby peaks of the Sierra Crest, the safest course of action is to not proceed past the permit checkpoint, at the base of Sub Dome.
Wear the proper ankle high boots, have fun, be safe, and carry plenty of water!