It’s that time again when you can get into the preseason (hiking season) lottery for permits to make the hike to the top of Half Dome. Wait, what? You have to get a permit to hike to the top of Half Dome?
In case this is your first trip, permits to hike to the top of Half Dome are required seven days per week when the cables are up (all summer long). The permit system was enacted with the hope it would protect wilderness character, improve safety, reduce crowding, improve safety, protect natural and cultural resources, and improve safety. Did we mention it would improve safety?
If you’re planning to hike the route in one day you must obtain a day use permit which will be distributed by lottery via the governments reservation website, Recreation.gov. Here be the link. No clue why I’m talking like a pirate suddenly.
Backpackers need to apply for Half Dome permits through the wilderness permit system.A maximum of 300 hikers are allowed (about 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers) each day on the Half Dome Trail beyond the base of the sub-dome. Yes, there is a ranger checking.
Two different lotteries will be held by Recreation.gov. The first is a single preseason lottery with registration starting March 1st and ending March 31st. That’s now if you’re not playing the home game.
The second is a daily lottery held throughout the hiking season with a limited number of tickets. It’s ALMOST impossible to get tickets through the daily lottery. You statistically have a better chance of winning a car in Vegas. Ok, that may or may not be true but it’s pretty darn tough to get them during hiking season. People were actually charging exorbitant fees for their permits on eBay and scamming people out of their money. DON’T BUY PASSES ON EBAY! READ BELOW! The person signing up for the tickets must be in the group!! Permits are not transferable.
You can apply for up to six permits (six people) and for up to seven dates during the preseason lottery. Applications will only be successful if the number of permits requested is available on at least one of the requested dates. If enough permits are available for more than one of the requested dates, permits will be automatically awarded to the highest priority date, as entered by the applicant.
The applicant must specify the name of the trip leader and may specify the name of an alternate. Each person may apply as a trip leader only once per lottery. People applying multiple times as a trip leader will have all their lottery applications canceled. Permits will only be valid if the trip leader and/or alternate specified on the permit is part of the group using the permits. The group with trip leader or alternate must be present together at the base of the sub-dome, where rangers will check for permits. The names of the trip leader and alternate may not be changed once the application is submitted, and their permits are not transferable.
The Pre-season lottery is a 2-step process:
1. Apply anytime between March 1 and March 31, 2014 for all dates that cables are expected to be up. (May 23 – October 14, 2014).
2. Check your Recreation.gov account between April 15 and May 20, 2014 to determine if your application was successful in the lottery. If so, confirm your reservation details and pay for your permit. All unconfirmed reservations will be automatically cancelled on May 21, 2014 and will be added to the secondary daily lottery.
Once you pay for your permit you may print it. If you might cancel your permit then do not print it until you are certain that you will be using it. Once a permit is printed it cannot be canceled. You may return to the Recreation.gov website at any time up to two days before your hike to cancel your permit and receive a full refund of the permit fee (not application fee).
For more information you can visit http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/hdpermits.htm