half dome, yosemite


Yosemite has always been one of my favorite places to go camping. I grew up going camping with my whole extended family there in the summers. It's full of nature's beautiful scenery, warm weather, and outdoor activities. I love hiking and so last year, I decided to take on Yosemite's Half Dome. The hike itself is 16.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 4,800 ft. It took us about 12 hours in total.

Half Dome has become such a popular destination for hikers around the world over the past few decades, so in 2012 they began limiting the trail to a maximum of 300 hikers per day. I'll explain how to plan your Half Dome trip below:

1. GET A PERMIT

You have to get a permit through a lottery system here. There is a preseason lottery (which I suggest because that way you can plan your system in advance) and daily lotteries during the season. The preseason lottery, though, is around March each year, so if you're looking to hike Half Dome this year, you can check out the daily lotteries. Each permit is good for a group of 6 people, so Joe and I secured one and invited four of our outdoorsy friends to join us!

2. RESERVE LODGING

Most people who are outdoorsy enough to hike Half Dome typically prefer to go all-in and camp, but if camping isn't for you, there are also a few hotels around. The best camp sites to stay at are actually in Yosemite Valley. If you do want to get one of these popular camp sites, you need to be online as soon as they become available. It's such a popular place to stay that they literally fill up within seconds of becoming available online.

If you're backpacking and would like to get a head start on the trail, you can hike about a mile in and camp at Little Yosemite Valley Campground, but need a wilderness permit for that. However, they book up really quickly. If you're not a camper, check out The Majestic Hotel (formerly The Ahwahnee), which is an upscale 4-star hotel that's really a historic landmark with some amazing architecture.

If you're not able to get a reservation in Yosemite Valley, you can also find little inns and lodges in a nearby town called El Portal, which is about a 15-20 minute drive from the trailhead. There's another campground, where we stayed, called Yosemite Pines. It's about a 30 minute drive from the trailhead and a pretty nice campground with a lot of amenities.