Lottery Opens Today for Half Dome Permits for Day Hikers

Yosemite, CA…Permits to hike to the top of Half Dome are required seven days per week when the cables are up (as called for in the Half Dome Plan in order to protect wilderness character, reduce crowding, protect natural and cultural resources, and improve safety).

A maximum of 300 hikers will be allowed (about 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers) each day on the Half Dome Trail beyond the base of the subdome.

Like last year, permits will be distributed by lottery via We will hold a single preseason lottery with an application period in March and will hold daily lotteries during the hiking season. Backpackers should apply for Half Dome permits with their wilderness permit.

On each application, people can apply for up to six permits (six people) and for up to seven dates. 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. Applicants may apply as the trip leader only once per lottery. Multiple applications with the same trip leader will be removed from the lottery.

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 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 subdome, 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.

Preseason Lottery
Two hundred and twenty-five permits for each day will be available through a preseason lottery. The application period for this lottery will be from March 1, 2013 to March 31, 2013. Applicants will receive an email with lottery results on April 15 (or can get results online or by calling We are planning on the Half Dome cables being up May 24, 2013 through October 14, 2013, but these dates could change based on conditions.

(You can view graphs that show how many Half Dome permit applications were submitted for each day during the 2012 Half Dome season.)

Daily Lottery
Approximately 50 permits will be available each day by lottery during the hiking season. These permits will be available based on the estimated rate of under-use and cancellation of permits (the exact number may change through the summer). The daily lotteries will have an application period two days prior to the hiking date with a notification late that night. (So, to hike on Saturday, you would apply on Thursday and receive an email notification of results late on Thursday night. Results will also be available online, or by phone the next morning.) The application period will be from midnight to 1 pm Pacific time.

Daily Lottery Success Rate: For mid-June through August, 2012, an average of 86 permits were available each day via the daily lottery. About 21% of lottery applications were successful, on average.Beginning early September, a larger number of permits were available during weekdays (due to fewer initial applications in the spring lottery), providing a much better chance of success. September weekends remained busy with fewer permits available, resulting in a 20-30% success rate.

To apply for a permit, visit or call 877/444-6777 (call center is open from 7 am to 9 pm Pacific time; online requests can be made any time during a lottery period).

Two separate fees are collected. The first fee, which is charged at the time you submit an application, is $4.50 (online) or $6.50 (by phone). This non-refundable fee, which is per application (not per person), is charged by for the costs of processing your permit application.

The second fee is $8 per person and is charged only when you receive a permit. (This fee also applies to wilderness permit holders.) This fee pays for park rangers checking for Half Dome permits and providing Half Dome visitors with hiking and safety information. The $8 fee is fully refundable if you cancel your permit more than two days before the hiking date specified on your permit or if the cables are not up on the date for which your permit is valid.