Half Dome cables lottery update 2/29/2012

On March 1 the window opens to apply for a permit via the 2012 Lottery. There is NO rush to be doing this on March 1. You have all of March to apply. You get no “points” for applying early. The lottery will be conducted in early April.

I went to the recreation.gov site to scope the beast out.

I suggest you set up an account and review the process. Finding the Half Dome page is not obvious. On the home page, go to the left and search “Yosemite” then “Permits and Wilderness” it will take you to a page that says this below. (I copied it here to save you time.)  It will not be active until tomorrow, March 1. I am going to wait several days for the recreation.gov site to be stable and get the bugs out. The last 2 years there were many issues and the staff of the vendor had no clue as to the process.  Comment back when you try it.


Half Dome Permit LOTTERY information:

Application period opens MARCH 1, 2012!

The National Park Service has extended the interim permit system for climbing the cables on Half Dome that begun in 2010. To make it easier and to be more equitable, the park is going to institute a lottery system for distribution of these permits. You can make a first choice of dates and up to 6 alternate dates and have up to 6 people on a single application.

  • Apply between March 1 and March 31, 2012 for all dates that the cables are expected to be up this year (May 25 -October 8, 2012). Permits for 300 people per day will be available.
  • An additional 50 permits per day will be distributed through a secondary DAILY lottery. This lottery will have an application period two days before the hiking date with the results announced one day in advance. The first daily lottery for Half Dome permits is expected to begin on May 23, 2012. Check back then for more information.
  • Fees: One application per person per season; non-refundable lottery application fee of $4.50 on the web / $6.50 though the toll free call center. Successful applicants will also be charged a $5 per person fee. This fee is refundable if the permit is not printed and cancelled at least 48 hours in advance of the hike.

This web page is not currently active and will be updated soon.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir 

*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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4 Responses to Half Dome cables lottery update 2/29/2012

  1. Tara says:

    I see no way to apply for a permit from recreation.gov website. I can pick a date for a permit and enter number in my group, but I get a message that says “these permits cannot be issued from this website.’ There’s no option to enter the lottery. Guess I will be giving them a call in the AM.

    Good Luck everybody!

  2. Maureen L says:

    good question, Brayton!

    we’ll see what Mr. Half Dome says, but my hunch is that there is just one permit for the whole party, not one for each individual.

    remember the Park is insisting that all hikers in the party check in at t he base of the Subdome at the same time.

    I’ve asked this before, but I don’t know if there’s any provision to reduce the number of hikers on your permit rather than cancelling entirely.

    • Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch says:

      This was one of my questions at the live webinar…hey, they haven’t released all the Q & A from that day – gee a couple weeks ago. I’m still waiting for my hard copy of the HD EA. I want to lay it out, highlight it and prepare my comments…..too hard to do with a PDF.

      They have not specified the exact logistics of the permit process. In 2010 they US Mailed us real ticket like permits. In 2011 we printed out paper from the rec.gov site. I assume we will do similar – but it does seem silly for them to have 6 independent permits. AND since all the party has to be together at Checkpoint Charlie, it would be easy if one permit just said “GOOD FOR 4.” A further assumption was if you wanted to cancel a person BEFORE printing out the “permit” that says “GOOD FOR 4,” you call or email and somehow it would be changed to “GOOD FOR 3,” then you print it out.

      I will ask my contact in the Planning Group. Check back for the results of this quest.

  3. Brayton says:

    So how do you get a refund if you pay for 6 permits but say you only print out 2(or use two)? do you just cancel the other four?? Seems like this new lottery system is going to be a bit more tricky and $$$.

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