If you’re one of the 25,000-plus people waiting for the annual lottery for a permit to hike Yosemite’s Half Dome, the wait is almost over. The lottery, which usually opens March 1, had been postponed and will now open March 13.
The park blamed the delay on its transition to a new contractor handling the process, according to a recent statement.
The quest for a permit during what’s called the preseason lottery has become so competitive that last year, just 19% of 26,963 applicants were successful. Some weekend dates showed a success rate as low as 2%.
The lottery awards date-specific permits between the end of May and early October, when cables are in place to help hikers up the last 400 feet to the 8,800-foot summit. During the spring-summer season, every person needs a permit to travel on the Half Dome Trail.
It’s a 14- to 16-mile round-trip day hike, which is not for beginners. It usually takes 10 to 12 hours — or longer. Go to out Yosemite’s Half Dome Day Hike page to learn more about the trail and the cables.
In spring and summer, daily lotteries award unused or canceled permits two days before an intended summit day. In all, 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers are allowed on the trail each day.
Hikers are charged $10 to apply and an additional $10 if they receive a permit.
In February, the permit lottery for another popular trail, the Mt. Whitney Trail, also was postponed.
The Feb. 1 start of the lottery for hikers who want to summit the 14,505-foot peak near Lone Pine, Calif., was pushed back until Feb. 22. Forest Service officials said it was delayed because federal employees furloughed during the partial government shutdown were working with a new contractor that couldn’t get the online protocols ready in time.
The Mt. Whitney lottery is taking applications now and will close at 9 p.m. Pacific time March 15.