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Half Dome Backpack


  •   Summit of Half Dome
  •   2 nights in the Yosemite backcountry
  •   The exciting Half Dome "Cables"
  •   Absolutely stunning views of Yosemite
  •   Many famous and picturesque waterfalls
  •   Amazing natural & cultural history


Come experience Yosemite’s most iconic hike with this classic Yosemite backpacking trip. The hike to the summit of 8,842 feet Half Dome is one of the most popular hikes in the park and a life-long goal for many! The summit, itself, is just one of the many highlights of this trip: Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, the Silver Apron, Emerald Pool, Panorama Cliffs, Liberty Cap, Tenaya Canyon, and the sub-dome are just some of the other incredible sights along the way!

The three day itinerary, with two nights spent camping in Little Yosemite Valley, allows us to really soak up all the magic that Yosemite National Park has to offer. We'll stop and relax in the cool misty air next to roaring waterfalls and cascades, and cool-off and swim in the more placid pools of the Merced. We'll setup a basecamp in Little Yosemite Valley where we'll stay for two nights as we attempt the summit of Half Dome high above us. At night we'll kick back and soak up the beauty next to a warm campfire and those endless High Sierra stars! The hike up Half Dome itself - on day 2 - is an exciting and highly gratifying experience. The hike will enliven you, the "cables" section will thrill you, and the views from the top are sure to inspire you! Join us for an unforgettable Yosemite hiking adventure!

Half Dome permits are very competitive, and we aren't always successful getting permits for our scheduled trips (we know 5.5 months in advance). We strongly recommend checking out the Young Lakes - Mount Conness backpacking trip as an excellent alternative to Half Dome in case we're unsuccessful. In the early season (May and June), our Yosemite Valley North Rim is also an exceptional alternative to Half Dome! Both of these trips are extremely high quality and much less crowded than Half Dome.

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Backpacking Trip
Yosemite Valley
4 days
16mi / 25km
$1040 Per Person

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Travel to Yosemite Valley

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Trip Dates & Booking

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800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

This Yosemite trip begins with rendezvous in Yosemite Valley on the patio of Curry Village in front of the Yosemite Mountain Shop at 6PM on Day 1. The Mountain shop is located on the street-facing side of the Curry Village Pavilion (closest to the parking lot). You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat. We'll conduct an orientation meeting, after which we'll get settled in the Backpackers Camp a stone's throw away from majestic Tenaya Creek and under the spectacular domes and cliffs of Yosemite Valley. We'll enjoy dinner either at Curry Village or in camp.

Day 2
  • Hiking Mileage: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

Our trek begins at the Happy Isles trailhead along the banks of the cascading Merced River in the east end of Yosemite Valley at 4000 feet. We quickly gain elevation as our route follows the world-renowned Mist Trail. Rain gear may be a good idea as the trail climbs a series of stair steps directly in the path of the thunderous spray of Vernal Fall. Topping out above the falls, a quick break allows us to dry off and warm up before we reach the awe-inspiring Emerald Pool and Silver Apron. Wisely, we ignore the siren’s call of the waters and stay on the trail...every year hikers are injured or even killed by venturing into theses dangerous cataracts. A hot and dry ascent, the last of the day, brings us to the phenomenally scenic lip of Nevada Fall. Here the towering domes of Mount Broderick and the Liberty Cap dominate the northern skyline as the view west encompasses 6222 foot Grizzly Peak, the Panorama Cliffs, and Glacier Point across the canyon. Following a leisurely lunch we continue to our campsite along the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley. After setting up camp, we can relax by swimming at "the beach" or just hanging around camp enjoying the pine scented air. Tonight, after a sumptuous dinner, we can swap yarns around the communal campfire as we prepare for tomorrow’s ascent of Yosemite’s most iconic Peak – Half Dome!

Day 3
  • Hiking Mileage: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 2700 feet

We will get an alpine start to the morning to avoid possible afternoon thunderstorms on today’s climb to the summit of Half Dome. After coffee and a quick breakfast we will take only day packs and ascend a series of mild switchbacks two and a half miles and 1800 feet up to the base of the sub-dome. Here we begin the real climbing as the trail ascends 500 feet in a half a mile on steep stair steps carved into the sheer granite slope. A short level respite provides an opportunity to rest and prepare for the crux of the hike: the final 400 foot vertical ascent along the legendary cables. At the summit, after a well-deserved celebration, we enjoy lunch, gazing out over all of Yosemite Valley below and much of the high country beyond. An astounding portion of Yosemite can be seen from this vantage: from Buena Vista Crest to the south, to the Sawtooth Ridge along the northern border, all the way to Mts. McClure and Lyell in the southeast corner and beyond, to the coastal ranges over 120 miles to the west. After lunch we will return to our camp in Little Yosemite Valley and celebrate our accomplishment with a victory dinner served up hot by your guide!

Please Note: the ascent of Half Dome involves climbing a section called "the cables," which is a very steep and exposed part of our hike. The National Park Service has installed a pair of cables to use as hand rails, but it is still a physically and psychologically demanding climb. Some of the objective hazards also include mishaps by other hikers, such as people slipping or dropping items. This climb isn't required to do the trip, but it is required to reach the top of Half Dome.

Day 4
  • Hiking Mileage: 5.2 miles
  • Elevation Loss: 2000 feet

Our return to Happy Isles and Yosemite Valley will follow the John Muir Trail, a parallel trail to the Mist Trail. This more relaxing route offers additional outstanding views of the falls, Liberty Cap, Mount Broderick and the backside of Half Dome, as it switchbacks down through a Douglas fir forest below the north face of the Panorama Cliffs. Reaching the trails end at Happy Isles, we can celebrate our accomplishment with a foot soak in the cold waters of the Merced or an ice cream cone at the snack shack!

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Yosemite hiking guide
  • National park backcountry camping permits
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, leather gloves (for the cables) and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.

Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person, leather gloves, and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

This trip meets in Yosemite Valley in the parking lot of Curry Village near the bear boxes at shuttle stop 14 at 6PM on Day 1. Your guide will contact you approximately 10 days before your trip to coordinate this rendezvous and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will be waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. Personal vehicles can remain parked at Curry Village during your trip.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's rendezvous time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be out of the backcountry normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.

Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.

Guide Shifts

Yosemite and Sequioa-Kings Canyon guides work daily shifts from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. During off hours (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) the guides' time is their own, and they are free to sleep, rest, take personal time, postpone guest requests until the next morning, and any other legal, reasonable activity people engage in when not working. We ask all guests to respect the guides' off-duty hours by not waking or asking anything of them unless there is a true emergency. Also, state law requires that employees receive an uninterrupted 10 minute break every four working hours, so guides are required to take four 10 minute breaks between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Sierras

Being a high mountain environment, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in the mountains. On trips in June, snow is a possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:
Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)

Camping on Backpacking Trips

backpacking tent

Backcountry Sleeping

Tent Camping

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

backpacking meals

Backcountry Cuisine

Fresh & Delicious

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

backpacking campsites

Amazing Campsites

In the Action

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

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