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Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

4.9
#3 of 23 in Nature in Yosemite National Park
Must see · Geologic Formation · Lookout
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Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a well-known rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.
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  • Half Dome is one of the icon in the Yosemite valley. It is a rock formation in the valley and it is a granite dome. One side is face and the other three sides round. It looks like a dome cut in to... 
    Half Dome is one of the icon in the Yosemite valley. It is a rock formation in the valley and it is a granite dome. One side is face and the other three sides round. It looks like a dome cut in to...  more »
  • Very cool geological formation that can viewed at various locations throughout the park. It is a amazing to see what nature can do. 
    Very cool geological formation that can viewed at various locations throughout the park. It is a amazing to see what nature can do.  more »
Google
  • We're a family of hikers (including our kids that summited Half Dome with us when they were 7 & 8 in Aug 2021 and did it again Aug 2022) so this review will not be indicative of average family hiking. However for kiddos that have a happy place out on the trail, this hike was an exceptional family activity. Be sure to pack plenty of water as the source along the trail ends when you split away from the Merced River at Little Yosemite. We took 2.5L-3L each and, with the kids, it took 12.5hrs RT (including rest stops) to do the 17.9 mile (up the Mist Trail & back on the John Muir Trail), 4800' elevation gain to the top and back with a long break at the top of Half Dome. I recommend hitting the trail earlier than 7am for ample time to make it up to the summit and back, although pre-dawn would be ideal to stay cool and see VIEWS of dawn. Also plan for shade or stop in the shade, even though this trail has sections that super shady. Be smart! Parking can fill up quickly so we just stayed parked at the campground and hiked to the Happy Isles Trailhead...could bike there and leave bikes at the bike rack. Once past the initial paved trail, you have one last stop for filtered water and there's a restroom. If you're going up the Mist Trail, this isn't the last restroom. This is where the trail splits into the Mist Trail or the John Muir Trail. Many day hikers choose to go up the beautiful Mist Trail and down the longer John Muir Trail. This is what we did because of ME...up the shorter, steep route of the Mist Trail and down the longer, gradual decline of the JMT. (But "me" is also now technically 40½ with 5 total ACL reconstruction/medial meniscus repair surgeries on both knees, breast cancer survivor, recently healed broken big toe, and a destroyed thyroid...but a determination to stay active and "use it or lose it.") We broke the hike up into 5 sections where we planned to rest/snack up: ☝️top of Vernal Falls (take MANY granite stairs up) ✌️top of Nevada Falls (combo of switchbacks and some stairs; you can rest at the bathroom at the top or veer to the right and follow the trail to the bridge area; this is also the junction of the JMT/Mist trails) 3️⃣ end of Little Yosemite area (although this is where the trail splits away from the Merced River so you may plan an extra stop to load up on water using your water filter) 4️⃣ Sub-Dome where you meet the Ranger to check your cable permits (and YES, they check your cable permits!) DEF recommend resting before starting up the MANY, steep granite stairs up the SubDome! 🖐 Half Dome cables are next, but we don't rest here -- we rest at the TOP OF HALF DOME and enjoy the amazing views almost 9K ft up! When you get back to the bottom...head to the Merced River and put your feet (including knees!) in the water and ENJOY 😉 celebrating your accomplishment! Our fav #halfdometraining hikes were Upper Yosemite Falls because there's VIEWS all over, especially of Half Dome. If you can at least make it to Columbia Rock which is 2mi RT with some elevation gain, it's worth those views!! You may even see a mule deer mid-day like we did! Other fav hikes were Mt Tallac (S Lake Tahoe), but message here or @Matlock.Rock to see how we made Half Dome a family hike!
  • Half Dome ! The best hike in the entire Yosemite valley circuit. The thrill, the view, the feel of achievement everything is out of the world. Definitely need to start very early. Also you need to be in solid physical shape. I got lucky for the permit through a friend, so didn't have any prep, but was able to complete it in 13 hours with an ample amount of breaks. The climb through the first part (until the waterfalls) was pretty quick and solid. And then it starts the never ending walk to the base of sub dome.. The cables on the half dome and the view from the base is intimidating, but once you start the climb and just focus on it, it will not be difficult. And the view from the top is worth every bit. Definitely recommended to start as early as 6in the morning to return before dark.

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