Half Dome Permits – 7 days a week

Half Dome cables in 2006
Half Dome cables in 2006
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.

2 thoughts on “Half Dome Permits – 7 days a week”

  1. I just posted about this on my blog on Friday too, along with some pictures of a hike up the cables that my wife and I did in 2007. I worked in Yosemite in 2005 in Interpretive Services and climbed the cables twice during that summer too.

    I totally understand the need for this, but I really don’t like the way they’re going about it. I think they need to provide a means for people to get the permits in Yosemite, maybe at the Wilderness Center. I’m also not sure why they don’t issue permits based on the time that people will show up. I would think they could issue closer to ~600 permits a day if they had some early morning permits (down before 10 AM, for example). The permits are busiest late morning and early afternoon but I never had issues any other time. Even when I was up there on July 4th in 2005 in the middle of the day, they were easily navigable. Busy, but easily navigable.

  2. Joey – Did you do NPS or DNC Interp? With Julie Miller?

    Your idea inspired me to look up the Research they did on Half Dome trail use. Certainly seems like the data supports your observations, and since the permit policy is still in an ‘interim’ phase, maybe that is something that they could look into. They enforce permits for people heading up the cables, so it would have to be monitored on that end, rather than a ‘down by’ time, but seems like it could be done. Have you written directly to NPS? They take public feedback very seriously over there.

    I would also love to see a local option to get permits a day before, too – some kind of lottery system so that you don’t have people camped out overnight to get in line early. That’s a nightmare.

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