Half Dome Backpacking

Trip Description

On this unforgettable Yosemite hiking adventure, you will experience some of the most famous scenery in all of Yosemite National Park: Little Yosemite Valley, Vernal and Nevada Falls and of course Half Dome. Hiking Half Dome is one of the most popular treks in the park and for good reason. When enjoyed over the course of a 3-day guided backpacking trip, the summit becomes much more easily attainable and the experience of camping in beautiful Little Yosmeite Valley is hard to beat.

Our journey starts at the Happy Isles Trailhead, a popular trailhead located in Yosemite Valley. We will climb the legendary Mist Trail, passing the spectacular Vernal and Nevada Falls before stopping for the night in idyllic Little Yosemite Valley. The following day, we arise early for our day hike to the summit of Half Dome. The hike to the top this granite giant is not for the faint of heart but the views from the summit are awe-inspiring and the experience is most certainly unforgettable. Relax in the late afternoon along the banks of the Merced River, or enjoying a dip in the crystal clear water. Our final day returns to Yosemite Valley via the famous John Muir Trail. This is a truly spectacular adventure featuring some of North America’s most outstanding backcountry. Join us for a hike to the summit of Half Dome and enjoy an adventure vacation you will never forget!

Call or email us with any questions.
[email protected]


Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Days: 3 or 4

Distance: 16 to 24 miles

Difficulty: Intermediate

Origin: Curry Village, Yosemite National Park

Cost: $1375 (3 Days) / $1625 (4 Days)


Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

We will meet at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley at a pre-determined time. The first day will be spent hiking the Mist Trail and exploring the waterfalls (320 foot Vernal Falls and 594 foot Nevada Falls) that have given this trail its name. We pass through forests of black oak and ponderosa pine as our trail heads relentlessly upward. There is good reason to stop and catch your breath often, as the views that unfold will leave you speechless. Enjoy lunch atop Nevada Falls, where the trail flattens out for the final mile to camp in Little Yosemite Valley. Drop your backpack, pat yourself on the back and relax as your guide sets up camp. The remainder of the afternoon is free to spend time by the river, enjoy a nearby swimming hole, or just relax and enjoy the remarkable surroundings. Your guide will prepare a delicious dinner before settling in for the evening.
Distance/Elevation: 4 miles, 2000 foot ascent
Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

With a very early start, we will have breakfast and then begin our trek towards the summit of Half Dome, leaving our big packs back at camp so we can travel up and down Half Dome with just the necessities in small day packs. We will take in views of Basket Dome, North Dome and Clouds Rest as we work our way up to Sub Dome and the base of the cables. The trail is steep and demanding but the views in the early morning are unforgettable. We will break at Sub Dome, catch our breaths, and enjoy a snack. From here, we will begin our climb up The Cables where you will gain the final 400 feet to the top of Half Dome. Enjoy the 360 degree panorama stretching from El Capitan to the colorful Clark Range and everything in between. This is a truly remarkable location to spend some time. After resting and soaking in the views, we will retrace our steps back to camp. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon to relish in your accomplishment.
Distance/Elevation: 7 miles, 2600 foot ascent/descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

*Notes about climbing Half Dome- The Cable Route is not for everyone. It is extremely exposed and steep and those with a fear of heights will NOT enjoy it. However, summiting Half Dome is not required and the views from Sub Dome are also spectacular! Those choosing not to summit can wait at Sub Dome and enjoy the sights until the rest of the group returns.

Day 3:

After another night under the star filled sky, we will enjoy one last breakfast in the wilderness before packing up camp. The hike out will follow the historic John Muir Trail back to the valley. This route winds through beautiful forest along the opposite the side of the Merced River, affording equally stunning views as our hike up on the first day. We will arrive back at the parking area to sort through our gear before car-pooling back to Curry Village for a final lunch and fond farewells.
Distance/Elevation: 5 miles, 2000 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch

4-Day Itinerary

A 4-day itinerary starts at the Mono Meadows Trailhead and spends Night 1 in the Illilouette Creek area before heading to Little Yosemite Valley on Day 2. This is an alternate itinerary based on permit availability.

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.


What's Included

  • A professional, licensed and medically trained guide
  • All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
  • All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your guide will prepare all meals)
  • All meals from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on the last day + trail snacks
  • Backcountry permits and fees
  • 5% NPS Commercial Fee (a required fee that passes through to Yosemite National Park)

What's Not Included:

  • Transportation to/from Yosemite National Park
  • Lodging the night before/after the trip
  • Clothing, raingear, and footwear
  • Personal toiletries, sunscreen
  • Water bottles/hydration bladder
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (suggested 10-20% of trip cost)

*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?

Most trips in Yosemite will accommodate 5 people plus one guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 12 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?

Children under the age of 13 are generally not permitted on regularly scheduled trips. This restriction may be negotiable on private tours. Please contact us with any questions regarding this policy.

How do I sign up?

In order to confirm a reservation, we require an initial non-refundable deposit of $250 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.

Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. You can also pay by personal check or PayPal (PayPal incurs a 1.5% surcharge). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032

Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?

This trip will begin/end in Yosemite National Park. You will want to fly into San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, or Reno. You will need to arrange your own transportation from airports to the park. In most cases, renting a car is your easiest and best option.

Where do meet our guides?

We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 5:00pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the at a pre-arranged location inside the park. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation. Most trips will depart between 7am and 9am.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?

On the first morning of your trip, you will follow your guide to the long-term parking area where you can leave your car and personal belongings for the duration of the hike. You can also check with your hotel to see if they are willing to store your luggage for you while you hike.

What time will we get back on the last day?

Most trips end at lunchtime on the last day of the trip. If you are considering flying home on the last day of the trip, you should be finished up around 2pm. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2024 Dates

June: 14-17, 19-21, 25-28

July: 1-3, 7-9,15-18

August: 14-17, 22-24


Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!

Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.

Guest Testimonials

Guest Testimonials

“Took my 2 daughters (ages 19 and 27) on 4 day Yosemite trip with a total group size of 6 including the guide. Dave from Four Seasons coordinated everything including equipment and meals. Our guide, Matt, was awesome. Climbed Half Dome and experienced a bunch of other stuff. Be sure to follow Dave’s recommendations regarding fitness, etc.” – Drew P.


“This is our third trip with Four Season Guides and they all have been excellent. The equipment is top quality as are the guides. This company is a little smaller than some of the other guide companies and it allows them to provide more top notch customer service. Their staff will answer all your questions (no matter how many times you call). Yosemite and Half Dome were amazing. You will not regret taking this trip.” – Cathy J.


“I just returned from the absolute best 4 day Yosemite backpacking trip with my friends! We hiked while carrying 35lb backpacks, tent camped, and climbed the halfdome! All of these activities were led by Four Seasons Guides and I cannot say enough great things about them! Jeremy was a very experienced hiker, guide, and had an extremely fun personality. The equipment provided by Four Season was top notch and Jeremy was extremely helpful to make sure we were all comfortable with our equipment and our abilities along the way. I would highly recommend Four Season Guides for any trip, I know I will be using them for any of my future trips.” Tonya S.


“This was our second trip with Four Season Guides. Again it was extraordinary. The trips are well planned, the equipment that is provided is great and the food was fantastic. Matt was our guide again and he did an outstanding job making this trip a great experience. Though this trip was physically more demanding than out last trip in Utah, Matt found the right pace to suit everybody in the group. He got us on the top of Half Dome early in the morning giving us a few minutes to enjoy the fantastic view all by ourselves before the next people arrived. Matt knows his stuff but more importantly he is just a great guy to spend time in the outdoors with. We loved every single moment of the trip and will be back again. Dave, thank you for the great support and fast responses from the office.” – Axel H.

When booking your Yosemite Backpacking Tour, it is best that you contact us at least 6 months in advance due to Yosemite National Park’s permit system. Backpacking permits are issued via a lottery system 168 days in advance of the hike’s start date. However, it is still quite possible that we can find space for you on permits that we have already secured, in case you happen to be planning a trip less than 6 months in advance.