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Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question

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Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 06:46AM
Hello all! I am a college student living in South Carolina that is getting ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime out west with 2 friends. We are very excited to visit Yosemite, and I had a few questions that I was hoping you guys could answer. I apologize if questions like this have already been asked, but I tried searching the forums and couldn't find anything. We are driving up to Yosemite from Los Angeles on the morning of Wednesday, August 7th. We do not have reservations in the valley, but we do have half dome permits for Friday the 9th. My questions are:

1: We are hoping to get a backcountry permit for Half Dome, so that we can leave on Thursday afternoon and stay the night in LYV and summit half dome on Friday. I do not have any sort of backcountry permit, but we were hoping to get a "first come first serve" permit when we get to Yosemite on Wednesday. Do I have any chance of getting a backcountry permit for LYV/Half Dome arriving at 11:00am, or will the line be too long?

2: Similar to the first question, we are going to stay at Tamarack Flat campground on the days we are not hiking half dome (if the backcountry permit works out), will we be able to get a campsite at that campground mid-day Wednesday, or will it all be sold out?


Thanks for any and all help guys! I am very excited to finally see Yosemite
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 10:41AM
It sounds like you are going to have a blast no matter what, so just relax and go with the flow.

I hope you're familiar with the permit process. If not, get yourself to the permit office first thing as you enter the park. FCFS permits are available 1 day prior to your departure date at 10am at any permit office within the park. That being said, I don't like your chances of getting the Happy Isles trailhead to LYV permit as it is the most popular in the park (by a big margin). Take a look at some other trailhead options that can include Half Dome like Glacier Point via the Panorama Trail or maybe from Tenaya Lake over Clouds Rest.

Be prepared to have alternatives ready or be ready to accept suggestions from the rangers to make the best of it. If Half Dome is your ultimate goal and you can't live without it, you may have to change your plans and do it as a day hike. Be ready for that!

If you don't get up there and end up doing another backcountry trip, don't worry it's not going anywhere.

Good luck and be safe!



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 03:03PM
To piggy back on what Jayabrams said:

One small correction: FCFS permits become available the day before at 11 am, not 10 am. What does happen at 10 am each day is automatic cancellation of reserved permits that haven't been picked up. If you were to get one of those cancellations it would be for starting that day.

FCFS permits are issued at any of the permit stations, but the station closest to the trailhead has priority. So that means, if you want to start from the Valley go to the Valley permit station, if you want to start from Tuolumne, go to the Tuolumne station. They can issue permits for anywhere in the park, but if there is anyone waiting at the other station closest to that trailhead, they have the first shot at that permit.

As for the line being too long, who knows, but if you don't try you'll a 100% chance of failure. There's usually a line at 7:30 at the permit station when they open. I wouldn't get there much after that, but you could get lucky if you arrived later. So if you don't want to wait that long I would do something else. Otherwise I would say you have a decent chance to get a permit, depending of course on how many people are in front of you.

If you did want to day hike Half Dome, receration.gov does a 2 day before lottery. You have midnight until 1 pm two days before to apply. So on Wednesday by 1 pm, you can call to try to get a permit to day hike Half Dome for Friday.

There's lots of other great places to explore in Yosemite, so if you don't get a permit to LYV/Half Dome area, go out and explore. You'll have a great time wherever you go.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 03:43PM
They already have their Half Dome permits. So the hardest bit is done. They are just trying to get up to LYV the night before.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 04:23PM
Didn't see that, but you are right. I would debate if getting a LYV permit is more difficult or not than getting Half Dome permits.

Either way, if you get a permit to camp in LYV you can also get a permit for Half Dome. Half Dome permits are limited for backpackers as well, but if you are early enough to be able to grab a permit for LYV, there usually are still Half Dome spots available too. So you don't have to get permits via two systems.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 04:57PM
Yah, after I posted, I wondered "which *is* harder"? I've heard many lament the difficulty of the HD lottery... I did hear the ranger tell someone on the 4th of July who thought she and her group would be able to get permits to hike HD that day that there were like 100 people in the Valley already lined up for HD... I wasn't really paying attention. And then I wondered how that worked, since I thought that both the preseason and daily lottery sign ups were by computer or phone. So what's the point of standing in line? Again, wasn't really focused on that... Just reread the NPS HD lottery page.. and the stats page. yick. still leaning HD day permit.. smiling smiley
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 04:22PM
Quote
knauerj
Hello all! I am a college student living in South Carolina that is getting ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime out west with 2 friends. We are very excited to visit Yosemite, and I had a few questions that I was hoping you guys could answer. I apologize if questions like this have already been asked, but I tried searching the forums and couldn't find anything. We are driving up to Yosemite from Los Angeles on the morning of Wednesday, August 7th. We do not have reservations in the valley, but we do have half dome permits for Friday the 9th. My questions are:

1: We are hoping to get a backcountry permit for Half Dome, so that we can leave on Thursday afternoon and stay the night in LYV and summit half dome on Friday. I do not have any sort of backcountry permit, but we were hoping to get a "first come first serve" permit when we get to Yosemite on Wednesday. Do I have any chance of getting a backcountry permit for LYV/Half Dome arriving at 11:00am, or will the line be too long?


Keep you plans flexible and you'll increase your chances of getting a workable backcountry wilderness permit for Thursday night. Specifically, besides trying to get your first choice (Happy Isles to LYV), if that's not available, the Happy Isle to Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Thru permit would work, as would the Glacier Point to LYV, or if you don't mind hiking a bit more miles, see if a permit for the Sunrise Lakes TH off of Tioga Road is available.


Quote
knauerj

2: Similar to the first question, we are going to stay at Tamarack Flat campground on the days we are not hiking half dome (if the backcountry permit works out), will we be able to get a campsite at that campground mid-day Wednesday, or will it all be sold out?


Because of its relative closeness to Yosemite Valley (compared to most other FCFS Yosemite Campgrounds), Tamarack Flat might be all sold out even by mid-day Wednesday. But then again, it might not be. So again, be flexible. Often at the entrances to the park, there will be a white board posted showing which campgrounds currently have sites available. Since you're coming up from L.A. (I presume on Hwy 41), if Tamarack Flat is listed as sold out, you might want to see if there's space available at the Bridalveil Creek Campground when you enter the park on Hwy 41. The Bridalveil Creek CG is a nice campground in a fine location, and would be perfect if you end up with the Glacier Point to LYV wilderness permit.

.
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 07:29PM
Skip HD and go to Clouds Rest instead. Better views and no crowds.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 19, 2013 11:40PM
Quote
Dave
Skip HD and go to Clouds Rest instead. Better views and no crowds.

Pounding head on desk
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 08:35AM
Quote
Dave
Skip HD and go to Clouds Rest instead. Better views and no crowds.


Someday, I would love to hike to Clouds Rest, but being that it is our first time ever being in Yosemite, we really wanted to do "the hike" that everyone knows and will recognize, thanks for the help though!

Thank you everyone so much for all your advice, I am blown away at the level of helpfulness from people on this forum. This is my plan so far:

1: Leave Santa Clarita, CA around 5:30am and drive to Yosemite
2: Arrive in Yosemite (hopefully) around 11:00am, and head straight for the Happy Isles Permit Office and hope to maybe get lucky on a Happy Isles to LYV or GP to LYV pass.
3: If we do not get lucky (which I am guessing is the likely outcome), ask the rangers about any other backpacking trips that include Half Dome
4: If nothing works out, we will drive up to Tuolumne Meadows and try and get lucky with a campsite, if TM does not work out, we will find a campsite just outside the Tioga Pass entrance, and enjoy all that Yosemite has to offer (including the Half Dome day hike on Friday).

Any suggestions? Again, I appreciate the help everyone has given me! 18 days until I am in Yosemite sleeping in tent
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 09:24AM
The permit office, actually called the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center, is in Yosemite Village, between the Post Office and the Visitor Center. Either park at the store or the main day use parking lot and walk to the Wilderness Center. Don't go to Happy Isles/Curry Village area.

One suggestion if you wanted to stay in the valley is Camp 4, which is a 100% FCFS campground. When you are leaving the valley you literally drive right next to it, so it wouldn't take much time to see if there is space available. You'll be pushing it arriving there around 12, but there can be space, especially on a weekday. You might even be able to ask the Rangers at the wilderness center if there is space. Camp 4 is not for everyone, as there are 6 people to a site no matter what, so you'll be sharing it with some people. I understand if you want to camp in Tuolumne but it would save you some driving that day.

Before you leave the valley, check for campground availability along the Tioga Rd & Tuolumne. The visitor center, ~200ft away from the permit office should have up-to-date info on the campgrounds. Then you can better plan where you could stay.
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 04:22PM
Quote
buster
The permit office, actually called the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center, is in Yosemite Village, between the Post Office and the Visitor Center. Either park at the store or the main day use parking lot and walk to the Wilderness Center. Don't go to Happy Isles/Curry Village area....
Don't go there. They do not handle HD permits. You need to follow the directions on this Park webpage.

I quote: Daily Lottery
Approximately 50 permits will be available each day by lottery during the hiking season. These permits will be available based on the estimated rate of under-use and cancellation of permits (the exact number may change through the summer). The daily lotteries will have an application period two days prior to the hiking date with a notification late that night. (So, to hike on Saturday, you would apply on Thursday and receive an email notification of results late on Thursday night. Results will also be available online, or by phone the next morning.) The application period will be from midnight to 1 pm Pacific time.

Another quote: How to Apply for a Permit
To apply for a permit, visit Recreation.gov or call 877/444-6777 (call center is open from 7 am to 9 pm Pacific time; online requests can be made any time during a lottery period).

That is the number you must call to get in the daily lottery.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 05:03PM
Quote
Dave
Quote
buster
The permit office, actually called the Yosemite Valley Wilderness Center, is in Yosemite Village, between the Post Office and the Visitor Center. Either park at the store or the main day use parking lot and walk to the Wilderness Center. Don't go to Happy Isles/Curry Village area....
Don't go there. They do not handle HD permits. You need to follow the directions on this Park webpage.

Dave,

Did you actually read the original post?

1) He/She already has a Half Dome day permit.

2) He/She wants a backpacking permit to stay the night at LYV or somewhere near Half Dome.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2013 05:13PM by buster.
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 05:51PM
Quote
buster
Dave,

Did you actually read the original post?

1) He/She already has a Half Dome day permit.
Then why all the talk about getting a HD permit?

Quote

2) He/She wants a backpacking permit to stay the night at LYV or somewhere near Half Dome.
For that go to the wilderness office. For HD permits, call the number.
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 09:49AM
Quote
knauerj

2: Arrive in Yosemite (hopefully) around 11:00am, and head straight for the Happy Isles Permit Office and hope to maybe get lucky on a Happy Isles to LYV or GP to LYV pass.
3: If we do not get lucky (which I am guessing is the likely outcome), ask the rangers about any other backpacking trips that include Half Dome


As I previously mentioned, the Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Thru wilderness permit would be very workable for a backpacking trip that included Half Dome. In fact, it would permit you to camp closer to Half Dome than any of the LYV wilderness permits.


Quote
knauerj

4: If nothing works out, we will drive up to Tuolumne Meadows and try and get lucky with a campsite, if TM does not work out, we will find a campsite just outside the Tioga Pass entrance, and enjoy all that Yosemite has to offer (including the Half Dome day hike on Friday).


I don't understand this point. Previously, you were thinking of camping at the Tamarack Flat Campground, but now only at Tuolumne Meadows, otherwise outside of the park???

I would think that camping at ANY campground INSIDE Yosemite National Park would be preferable than camping at a campground OUTSIDE of Yosemite.

By arriving on a Wednesday, there's a high likelihood that multiple campsites will be available at various Yosemite campgrounds, though maybe not at Tamarack Flat or Tuolumne Meadows (two of the most popular non-Yosemite Valley campgrounds within the park). Besides the Tuolumne Meadows or Tamarack Flat campgrounds, the Porcupine Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek and Bridalveil Creek first-come first-served campgrounds would be fine alternatives, and preferable in my opinion to any campground outside of Yosemite National Park.


.
Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 20, 2013 10:01AM
Quote
plawrence
Quote
knauerj

2: Arrive in Yosemite (hopefully) around 11:00am, and head straight for the Happy Isles Permit Office and hope to maybe get lucky on a Happy Isles to LYV or GP to LYV pass.
3: If we do not get lucky (which I am guessing is the likely outcome), ask the rangers about any other backpacking trips that include Half Dome


As I previously mentioned, the Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake Pass Thru wilderness permit would be very workable for a backpacking trip that included Half Dome. In fact, it would permit you to camp closer to Half Dome than any of the LYV wilderness permits.


Quote
knauerj

4: If nothing works out, we will drive up to Tuolumne Meadows and try and get lucky with a campsite, if TM does not work out, we will find a campsite just outside the Tioga Pass entrance, and enjoy all that Yosemite has to offer (including the Half Dome day hike on Friday).


I don't understand this point. Previously, you were thinking of camping at the Tamarack Flat Campground, but now only at Tuolumne Meadows, otherwise outside of the park???

I would think that camping at ANY campground INSIDE Yosemite National Park would be preferable than camping at a campground OUTSIDE of Yosemite.

By arriving on a Wednesday, there's a high likelihood that multiple campsites will be available at various Yosemite campgrounds, though maybe not at Tamarack Flat or Tuolumne Meadows (two of the most popular non-Yosemite Valley campgrounds within the park). Besides the Tuolumne Meadows or Tamarack Flat campgrounds, the Porcupine Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek and Bridalveil Creek first-come first-served campgrounds would be fine alternatives, and preferable in my opinion to any campground outside of Yosemite National Park.


.

That was the original plan, but I got some advice saying that we had a shot at getting TM, and that there were other campgrounds preferable to Tamarack Flat. To me, TM would be my number 1 choice, I would love to camp in the high country and get to see everything it has to offer. If TM doesn't work out, all of the listed first come first come campgrounds are definitely on my list!
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 22, 2013 11:26AM
Just to add to the discussion...

You can get permits for any trailhead at any permit station. Increase your chances and get to the first one you come across on your way into the park. Don't wait until you get to the valley.

If you come up via 395, you'll want to stop at the Tuolumne Meadows permit station. I always hit the one at the Hwy 140 entrance to the park on my way in. I'm sure there's one at the Hwy 41 entrance as well, but I've never been to that one.

Once you have your permit you can worry about your campsite for the night. Try all the drive in sites and as a worst case scenario you can stay in the Backpackers CG for $5 per person.



"It is all very beautiful and magical here - a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breath it., let the sun bake it into you" - Ansel Adams
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 22, 2013 01:06PM
Quote
Jayabrams
.... I'm sure there's one at the Hwy 41 entrance as well, but I've never been to that one.
That would be Hill Studio. It's to the left of the Wawona Hotel.
avatar Re: Half Dome Backcountry Permit Question
July 22, 2013 03:42PM
You could try Bridalveil Creek CG and get FCFS for GP Trailhead and do the panorama to LYV or even bivy up on the ridge somewhere. I was on GP road on Weds 7/17 at 5:30pm going out to GP and there was space available at BVC. Coming back at 7:30 it had filled up.

Oops - plawrence already posted:

"if Tamarack Flat is listed as sold out, you might want to see if there's space available at the Bridalveil Creek Campground when you enter the park on Hwy 41. The Bridalveil Creek CG is a nice campground in a fine location, and would be perfect if you end up with the Glacier Point to LYV wilderness permit."

If you did stay up there, you could take the GP shuttle back for you car. Have fun!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/22/2013 04:01PM by boomtown.
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