Half Dome


Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, Half Dome is a Yosemite icon and a great challenge to any hiker.


Brian Skalsky

Start/Finish points

The trailhead is at the east end of Yosemite Valley, to which almost all roads in Yosemite lead. From 140, just stay on the road until you're in Yosemite Valley; from the north (Big Oak Flat) entrance, do the same; from the Tioga Road, go west until it terminates at Big Oak Flat Road, then turn left and follow Big Oak Flat Road to the valley; from the south entrance, take highway 41 (which you're already on) all the way to the valley. Once you've reached Yosemite Valley, keep an eye out for signs to Curry Village and head in their general direction. Once you've reached the Curry Village vicinity of the valley, you should start spotting signs for trailhead parking. Follow them to the trailhead lot or park at Curry Village.

If you're taking the Glacier Point route, take highway 41 to Glacier Point Road and then take Glacier Point Road to its eastern terminus at, appropriately enough, Glacier Point.

Nearest Towns


The 16-mile round-trip hike to Half Dome is not for you if you’re out of shape or unprepared. You will be gaining elevation, approximately 4,800, most of your way to the top of Half Dome. But the reward at the top and the journey is well worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll see outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, and panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. Note, because of the crowds, if you hike to half dome on a weekend make sure you leave early. We left our Yosemite campground at 5am to get a head start on the trail.

Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to hike to Half Dome and back; some take longer or shorter. If you plan on hiking during the day, it’s smart to leave around sunrise (or earlier). Each person should carry a flashlight or headlamp with good batteries. Although the trail is well marked, you should be prepared with a good topographic map and compass and know how to use them.

The most famous part of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The two metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment.

Cable Tips

  • Take your time and be patient with slower hikers
  • Allow faster hikers to pass you (when possible)
  • Remain on the inside of the cables

Do not attempt the ascent if:

  • Storm clouds are in the area
  • The ground is wet
  • The cables are down for the winter. The cables are typically down, from the day after Columbus Day until the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. (check conditions update for status and any available updates).

Also you can bring a clip in harness if you like to be safe on the cables.


All people using the Half Dome Trail above the subdome must have a permit in possession on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays when the cables are up. A maximum of 400 permits will be issued each of these days.


Yosemite National Park

Website: http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm



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