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California: Permit lottery for Yosemite's Half Dome starts Friday

March 01, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Tourists hike up the cables to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.
Tourists hike up the cables to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. (Yosemite National Park )

The lottery for summer permits to hike up Yosemite's Half Dome via the cables begins online Friday and continues through March 31.

Permits are required daily during the summer for each person who wants to hike to the top of Yosemite National Park's popular granite rock face at 8,842 feet above sea level.

The cables with wooden slats that form a kind of ladder on the last 400 feet to the top are scheduled to be up May 24 to Oct. 14 this year, according to the National Park Service.

Those who apply may choose up to six date preferences when entering the lottery at, (877) 444-6777, and should hear by April 15 whether they were successful in obtaining permits.

The park allows 300 people -- 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers -- to use the cables each day. It costs $4.50 online or $6.50 by phone for the reservation fee and an additional $8 per person for those who receive permits.

During the hiking season, about 50 permits a day become available from cancellations or unused permits. Hikers and backpackers may enter another lottery two days before their desired date in hopes of getting one of those spots. The hike to the top, starting at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, is a strenuous 17 miles round-trip.

The lottery used to be month to month but changed last year to a preseason system that allows hikers and backpackers to choose dates throughout the season. The Park Service started the lottery system in 2010 as a way of managing and protecting the growing number of people who turn out to hike up Half Dome.

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