Days: 3 or 4 Days
Distance: 16 miles/25km (3 Days), 23 miles/37km (4 Days)
Origin: Half Dome Village, Yosemite National Park
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!
We will meet at Half Dome 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
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.
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 Half Dome Village for a final lunch and fond farewells.
Distance/Elevation: 5 miles, 2000 foot descent
*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.
- 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
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 10-15% 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 113 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 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. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-877-272-5032
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. Please visit our Travel Resources page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.
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.
June: 3-6*, 8-10, 11-13, 15-18*, 18-20, 21-24* *4-Day Itinereary
July: 2-5*, 13-15, 16-18, 20-23*
August: 6-9*, 14-16, 27-29
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-877-272-5032 or email us for details.
When booking your Yosemite Backpacking Tour, make sure that you book out at least 4+ months in advance due to Grand Canyon National Park’s permit system. Backpacking permits are issued on the first of the month 4 months in advance (i.e. Jan 1 for all of May, Feb 1 for June, Mar 1 for July…etc.)