It’s finally official – NPS announced a new interim program to require permits to hike Half Dome all week long while the cables are up in 2011. Permits will be available online through Recreation.gov only March 1, for May and June dates, and then April 1 for July etc. One more time – you can ONLY get these permits online about 3 months before you want to come up and hike the dome. There are no first-come first-served options. Plan ahead.
I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised at the decision. After the report detailing the effects of limiting Half Dome access during weekends and holidays last summer came out (you can get the pdf of the report here along with other information on Half Dome trail use and management), this seemed like a logical extension of the permit policy. Limiting access during the weekends simply transferred traffic to other days, and the new restrictions address those concerns.
However, I can’t help gritting my teeth in anticipation of all the disappointed people that will arrive this summer after training for nine months to get in shape for the iconic hike, only to find out that the permits have been sold out for months… and I’m not even one of the people who will bear the brunt of that reaction on a full time basis. Please help spread the word. You need a Permit to Hike Half Dome now. All. The. Time.