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Yosemite: New lottery for Half Dome permits starts Wednesday

May 23, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The cables up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park are popular with hikers who want to complete the 17-mile hike to the top and back.
The cables up Half Dome in Yosemite National Park are popular with hikers… (Los Angeles Times )

The cables that allow hikers to ascend Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome will open for the season Friday. But all the permits required to use them from May through mid-October have been given out by lottery already, right? Not quite.

The National Park Service on Tuesday announced a new daily lottery that will issue 50 hiking permits a day for the popular and strenuous 17 miles to the top and back. The lottery will be held two days before a desired hiking date. So, for example, if you want a shot at Half Dome permits this Friday, you would enter the lottery Wednesday (as in today). 

Enter the lottery by going online to or by calling (877) 444-6777. Only one permit will be issued per person. That means if you plan to go with a friend, both of you must enter the lottery to have a shot at scoring a permit. The daily lottery is available by phone and online from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. PDT. Entrants will receive a notification whether they were successful or after the lottery ends.

Permits cost $5 each (up from $1.50 last year) but you'll also be charged a nonrefundable fee of $6. (Yes, you pay the lottery fee whether or not you prevail.)

The Park Service implemented a new lottery system for Half Dome permits this year that ended in March. Hiking permits are required seven days a week for those hoping to complete a hike that gains 4,800 feet along cables laced with wooden planks.

Up to 400 permits a day (including the 50 in the daily lottery) will be issued for those who want to make the ladder-like trip up the granite face.

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