Based from the superlative Yosemite Valley, we’ll achieve the summit of one of the world’s most iconic peaks: Half Dome. Along the way, we’ll travel the shores of the “Wild and Scenic” Merced River, pass Vernal and Nevada waterfalls, and hike a section of the famous John Muir Trail. Surely, though, the highlight of the trip is standing atop Half Dome (8,845’) with sweeping views of the Yosemite high country.
More Ways To Climb Half Dome
Aug 28 – September 1
Check in to Curry Village within spectacular Yosemite Valley anytime after 5pm. Meet your guide and group at 6pm on the porch of the Mountain Shop in Curry Village for a short meet-and-greet and trip orientation. Dinner tonight is on your own at one several local restaurants.
*Length of itinerary is determined by permit availability
5-day itinerary: After breakfast on your own, you will meet your guide in front of the Half Dome Village Mountain Shop at 7:00am. We’ll leave our cars in the parking lot and take a shuttle to our starting trailhead. The scenic ride will be about an hour and a half long. We’ll then lace up our boots and hike about 4 miles to our camp along the Illillouette Creek, below Mt Starr King.
4 miles, Elevation: +697′ / -1540′
4-day itinerary: After breakfast on your own, you will meet your guide in front of the Curry Village Mountain Shop at 8:00am. We’ll leave our cars here in the parking lot and take a short (10 min) shuttle to the Happy Isles Trailhead. From there, we’ll follow the Merced River past Vernal and Nevada waterfalls and into Little Yosemite Valley where we will make camp for the night. 5 miles
*Length of itinerary is determined by permit availability
5-day itinerary: Today we’ll continue making our way towards Half Dome, passing over the top of Nevada Fall along the way. Our final destination will be the Little Yosemite Valley (LYV) / Sunrise Creek area. This day will involve 5-7 miles of hiking, depending on the route chosen. In camp, we’ll have access to the beaches along the Merced River and to solar composting toilets.
5-7 miles, Elevation: approx +1798’/ -2070′
4-day itinerary: Beginning early in the morning, we’ll eat breakfast and start our hike to the summit of Half Dome (8,845′). After a few miles of gaining elevation within the fir forests, we break above treeline for our first look at the famous Cables Route. After a bit more hiking we’ll make the quick and straightforward climb up the final stretch to Half Dome’s summit. Spectacular views await of the Sierra high country and down into Yosemite Valley far below. Not to be missed is a peek over the edge from The Visor, perched 4,700ft above Tenaya Canyon. After hiking back down to camp, we can go for refreshing swim from the beaches of the Merced River, have dinner and relax by the campfire.
5-day itinerary: Beginning early in the morning, we’ll eat breakfast then start our hike to the summit of Half Dome. After a few miles of gaining elevation within the fir forests, we break above treeline for our first look at the famous Cables Route. After a bit more hiking we’ll make the quick and straightforward climb up the final stretch to Half Dome’s summit. At 8,847′ above sea level Half Dome has spectacular views of the Yosemite high country. We’ll spend lunch taking in the views and hike back to camp in the early afternoon. Once we reach camp in LYV again, we can go for a refreshing swim in the Merced River and relax before dinner and one final night in the backcountry.
6.7 miles, Elevation: +2875′ /-2876′
4-day itinerary: Our hike back to the trailhead is as amazing as everything else we’ve seen as we travel the famous John Muir Trail along the “Wild and Scenic” Merced River back into Yosemite Valley. We’ll arrive to Curry Village between 12-1pm.
Our hike back to the trailhead is as amazing as everything else we’ve seen. We will travel the famous John Muir Trail along the “Wild and Scenic” Merced River back into Yosemite Valley with views of Vernal and Nevada Falls. We’ll arrive to Curry Village around early afternoon. (Approximately 12-1pm).
5.3 miles, Elevation: +811′ / -2935′
- 1st night’s lodging at Curry Village in Yosemite National Park
- 3-4 nights of wilderness tent camping (permits included)
- All group gear including stoves, cookware, water filters, group first aid kit, etc.
- Personal backpacking gear provided by request: backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, trekking poles, and tents
- Day 2 shuttle to starting trailhead from Yosemite Valley
- Starting with lunch on Day 2 and ending with breakfast and trail snacks on Day 5
- Backcountry gourmet meals including trail snacks
- Hot tea or coffee served each morning
A Few More Notes
Your trip begins and ends at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley, CA. Plan to arrive before 6pm so you can meet your guides and group for your trip orientation. We recommend driving to Curry Village, although public transportation is also an option (see notes about public transportation below). We’ll return to Yosemite Valley by 1pm on the last day of your trip.
Training & Preparation
This trip is rated as moderate and is designed to be a beginner-friendly backpacking trip. You will be carrying a 30-35lb backpack for 3 days of the trip and should plan to come well prepared. While you will be able to leave your full backpack at camp when you hike to the summit of Half Dome, it is still a strenuous trail and a physically demanding day.
In training, you’ll want to focus on leg strengthening using a combination of gym workouts, stair climbing, and hiking in your local area with a fully weighted pack. We recommend hiking in the boots you plan to wear and to feel comfortable with your personal clothing and gear.
With the Half Dome permitting regulations in place since 2013, coupled with a huge increase in demand for fewer permits, itineraries may be subject to slight changes and different trailheads may be used to make sure we can climb Half Dome. The permit we receive dictates whether the trip will be 4 days or 5 days. All departures including Half Dome are not guaranteed until 24 weeks in advance when the permits become available to reserve. We will let you know immediately of any updates.
Public Transportation To Yosemite
If you prefer not to drive to Yosemite Valley, public transportation is available for this trip. Yosemite Area Regional Transportation (YARTS) is the sole provider for the surrounding Yosemite area. We recommend reserving a ticket online ahead of time. Please make sure that you choose a time from your location that will have you arriving in Curry Village, Yosemite Valley by the latest 6 pm for your trip orientation (we recommend arriving around 4 pm to check in to your tent cabin first). Note that at the end of your trip, you will be back to Curry Village and done with lunch around 1 pm, so plan departure times accordingly.
What's Not Included
- Personal clothing & footwear
- Dinner on the first night in Yosemite Valley
- Recommended 10%-20% gratuity for guides
- Trip Insurance (strongly recommended)
- Voluntary or involuntary evacuations
Jonathan B, 2016
Mark T, 2016
Annette & Mike D, 2015
Les M, 2012