Half Dome is one of the most popular hikes in the US. In 2022, only 21% of applicants were successful in getting a permit. Here is how you can maximize the odds of getting one.
To day hike Half Dome, you must get a permit through one of the 2 lotteries. Either the once a year preseason lottery or the daily lotteries.
We don’t have data on that, but it looks like larger groups have just as good of a chance as small groups. Applications are drawn at random, one at a time, with no preference for smaller groups.
tip The application only requires you to specify the group leader. To increase your odds of success, have everybody in your group enter the lottery with a separate application. However, each additional application will cost you an extra $10.
If you enter the preseason lottery, you have the best chances of getting a permit and avoiding wildfires in late September and early October. For the daily lottery, odds don’t vary as much — except on dry winter years when the trail opens before Memorial Day weekend (these dates are not available in the advance lottery).
Wildfires are becoming more prevalent in Yosemite.
July, August, and September are the riskiest months, so be prepared to cancel your trip.
When entering the preseason lottery, avoid Fridays and Saturdays. However, the odds of getting a permit on Fridays are better in the daily lottery. So, have a reminder to enter the daily lottery by Wednesday 4 PM if Friday’s weather forecast looks good!
Enter the preseason lottery between March 1 and March 31, 2024. Apply to the daily lottery on the same page.
It’s far from over; there are other ways to summit Half Dome:
You can enter the daily lottery as many times as you want during the season, but it will cost you $10 per application.
Hiking Half Dome in a day is strenuous (15 miles, 5,000ft elevation gain), so it’s common for some people in a large group to turn around before the end. Because you only need a permit to climb up the cables to the summit, you can hike up to the start of the cables and find a group that has extra spots left on their permit. If you can’t find a group, the views are still amazing from Sub Dome.
Some backpacking permits allow you to summit Half Dome as part of your trip. Most people plan a 1-night backpacking trip at Little Yosemite Valley which is on the way to Half Dome. We can even notify you when we find permits.
Next issue on the 25th
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The success rate charts were created using historical reservation data provided by Recreation.gov. Reservation data for October 2022 isn’t yet available, therefore, lottery success rates for October use 2021 reservation data.
Air quality was provided by AirNow.gov. Data comes from the Yosemite Village visitor center sensor.
Photo by Dylan Taylor.