11 steps to get a 2-day permit to hike Half Dome

recreation.gov = the portal

1. Go to http://www.recreation.gov/

2. Create a profile for yourself.

3. 2 days BEFORE your desired date and BEFORE noon, login.

4. On the left side “Where,” type in Yosemite

5. Enter “interest in permits & wilderness”


7. Enter date – Group size


9. Read all the safety information and check the “acknowledge” box & Pay

10. Late that night and the next day, login again, go to your account (or call recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777 ) and see if you won. You can also do all this via phone.

11. Make copies for everyone in your party to show the ranger at sub dome. If you are in the park and don’t have access to a printer, record the permit number to tell the ranger. He/she will have a list of awarded permits for the day.

Permits will only be valid if the trip leader and/or alternate specified on the permit is part of the group and has valid ID to present.

Once you have printed your permit, group size cannot be changed, the permit cannot be cancelled and no refunds can be made. The $5 permit fee is fully refundable if you cancel your permit more than two days before the hiking date specified on your permit.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” – John Lubbock

MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com

One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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12 Responses to 11 steps to get a 2-day permit to hike Half Dome

  1. Roger S says:


    You forgot to add step 12: Be prepared to be disappointed when you don’t win. I have entered the daily lottery for the past three days, for July 31, August 1 and 2, and have been unsuccessful each day. And they don’t notify you by email until midnight of the day you apply. How could it take them 11 hours to determine the winners and then notify everyone? Very frustrating.

    I will be on the trail tomorrow (Thursday, 8/2), hoping I can obtain a permit from someone along the way.


    • I feel your pain. I just try to tell it like it is. Plenoe let me konw if your “got an extra permit?” process works.

      Thursday should be light… good luck.

      • Roger S says:


        Success! Yesterday, when I reached the “Half Dome 2.0” marker, I pinned my “I need a permit” sign to the back of my pack, and continued up the hill. A little while later, I passed a lone female hiker who saw the sign and told me she had an extra. We hiked to the Ranger checkpoint together, and I went through with her.

        I also learned a possible reason for the relatively low success rate of 21% in the daily lottery. When we went through the checkpoint at 11:33 am, the Ranger said 173 hikers had already come through that morning. When I came back through the checkpoint at 2:40 pm, on my way down, the Ranger had already left. I ran into him further down the trail, and he said only 200 hikers had come through by the time he left (around 2:30). Unless there were 250 hikers who came up after 2:30, it appears that a lot of people are getting permits but not using them (for whatever reason) and are not returning them to the pool. This is really unfair to people who legitimately want to do the hike. As much as I would hate to add yet more bureaucracy to this process, I’m wondering if some type of 3-days-prior confirmation could/should be implemented whereby permit holders must confirm their intent to use said permits, or they will be returned into the pool. That would make them available in time for the daily lottery. Thoughts?

        Thanks for the information you provide through your blog. I have found it very useful.


  2. Emily says:

    So this is the only other way to get on half dome if you didn’t get a permit in March, correct? And when you say two days before, can it be more than two days or it has to be two days before?

    • Yes…and no. You need to go to the button on my blog called PERMITS to read the whole enchilada on previous info. Basically 2 days before your hike, up until noon, you apply. Then way later that night you can go to your account and see if you got a permit. ONLY 2 days before. NO in-park walk up process.

      Do the hike anyway and ask along the trail for people who have extra…you will need to be with them as their TRIP LEADER meets the Ranger at Sub Dome.

      • Emily says:

        Okay, thanks for all your information!
        Just a couple more questions, I live in Sacramento and was planning to go to Yosemite just for Half Dome. If I apply for this daily lottery, I will at least find out the day before the date right? And also would it be okay to make the drive (if I have multiple people to take turns driving after the hike) Or where should we stay if you think that would be better?
        Thanks again for all your information sharing!

        • Yes. CALL recreation.gov to sort out all the fine points….but yes, they will post it to your account the eveningof 2-days out. They did NOT call/email me when I lost in July, so I’d talk to them NOW.

          Again go to the blog and read back on PERMITS. Also, if this is your first time, go to REI in Sacto and get my book. One Best Hike: Yosemite’s half Dome.

          Drive from Sacto??? Not me. I want a good night’s sleep before this massive hike. Not worth it to save some $$$… Best place is Cedar Lodge in El Portal. Kinda cheaper than others and 45 mins from trail head. Groveland is next choice.

          Good luck – let me know how it goes.


  3. Maureen L says:

    Degnan add-currency internet terminals are still there, but were out of order for a number of weeks this spring.

  4. Steven says:

    Do we still have to follow this procedure even if we are camping in the valley. Internet can be spotty. Is there away to do it in person while staying in the valley?

    • Yes, that’s the process. Cell phone coverage is better….the antenna is near the Valley Visitor Center, so you can go there to get a good phone connection. The Yosem Lodge has wifi for a fee as well as coin-operated PC’s. At Degnan’s Deli there (were) coin op PC’s; dunno if there are still there.

      They expecting you do do it all by phone or internet. There is NO valley office for this. Recreation.gov is in NY state and handles this.

      Another option is jus,t to do the hike anyway and ask along the trail if people have extras…often they do but did not cancel…you will have to arrive at the Sub Dome Ranger with the TRIP LEADER on the permits.


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