Yosemite Backpacking – Half Dome

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4-10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,999 for REI Members
$2,198 for non-members

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Yosemite holds a unique place in the heart of all those who explore its trails—this 4-day trip is perfect evidence as to why.

Exalted for its magnificence and revered for its challenging trail; an ascent of Half Dome is an unforgettable adventure. The dome, 8,842 feet of granite rock, is the signature landmark of Yosemite National Park. The Sierra Nevada mountain range, clear alpine lakes and meadows carpeted with wildflowers provide the perfect backdrop for our epic backpacking trip.

Our knowledgeable, exceptional guides lead the way—sharing Yosemite’s secrets, preparing delicious meals and imparting backpacking wisdom. We travel between five and twelve miles every day, exploring the diversity of the high country and enjoying campfire camaraderie at night. When the sun comes up, we don our packs and hit challenging trails in pursuit of the top of the iconic Half Dome. As we stand upon the summit, looking down on the valley floor below and the sun rising in the distance, we revel in our accomplishments and in the tremendous journey we have completed.

2024 dates will be posted once backcountry permits have been secured approximately 5 months prior to the departure date. Sign-up via the link below to be notified when 2024 dates become available.

Sign up for trip updates to learn about new dates the moment we add them. And you can always contact us with questions about upcoming availability: (800) 622-2236 | travel@rei.com

The culmination of your adventure, basking in the rarefied air at the top of Half Dome!

Trip Highlights

  • Backpack through Yosemite National Park and summit iconic Half Dome
  • Follow expert guides who pass on local knowledge and outdoor skills
  • Take in scenic vistas, glacially-carved features, and magnificent forests

Activities

This trip is rated Vigorous [4]. Participants will be carrying their own backpack weighing 35 to 40 lbs at a high elevation for several miles over steep, exposed and rocky terrain, with constant and dramatic elevation gain and/or loss exceeding 2,000' or more per day on most days of this trip. Keep the high elevation of this trip in mind when training for this adventure as backpacking/hiking will feel harder and use more energy than at lower levels, especially if coming from a lower elevation/sea level. Previous backpacking experience is highly recommended, this is not a beginners backpacking trip.

To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we strongly encourage you to be involved in a consistent training regimen starting at least 3-6 months before the trip, that ideally includes training hikes with a weighted pack. We also recommend that you stay well hydrated prior to departure to assist in mitigating the effects of hiking at high altitude. Your overall fitness level is crucial to your enjoyment of this trip.

  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Hiking

What's Included

Professional instruction and guiding; meals as noted on the daily itinerary; 3-person tents for 2 guests; group cooking gear; group first aid kit, water filter; campsite and permit fees.

Accommodations

Backpackers campground, 1 night; Backcountry camping 2 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Yosemite Backpacking – Half Dome
Day 1

Welcome to Yosemite where our backpacking adventure begins!

This trip begins in Yosemite National Park, California. Today we meet our guides and the other group members in Yosemite Valley in the late afternoon. After a trip orientation and gear check we enjoy dinner together at camp. Please allow yourself ample travel time, as traffic can sometimes be an issue in the valley. Dinner included.

Day 2

Head out on the trail and into Yosemite's beautiful backcountry.

Today we wake and enjoy breakfast before packing up and heading out to our first backcountry campsite. We'll distribute group gear and food, review techniques for correctly packing a backpack, and discuss our route. Depending on our route, we may start with either a park shuttle (approximately one hour) or head right to our trailhead from the valley floor. This is typically a full first day of backpacking, with time along the way for lunch, a myriad of photo opportunities, trail interpretation, and maybe a dip in a mountain creek. At dusk, look forward to camaraderie around the campfire as we watch for shooting stars overhead. Our first day we'll usually hike close to 5 miles, elevation profiles will vary by route. All meals and snacks provided.

Backpacking: 5 to 7 miles; elevation gain/loss 1,000 to 2,000'.

Day 3

Summit day, or camp on the shoulder of Half Dome.

Another glorious day in the mountains awaits us as we don our packs and hit the trail. Depending on our route, this may be a summit day with only a day pack, or we may continue our route with fully loaded packs to camp on the shoulder of Half Dome. Our guides will share their passion for backpacking in the Sierras, and you may delight in a glimpse of a marmot or the call of the mountain chickadee. A hearty dinner will satisfy your belly and the Sierra stars will satisfy your soul. All meals and snacks provided.

Backpacking: 7 to 12.5 miles; elevation gain/loss: 2,000 to 3,000'.

Day 4

Summit day, or see vistas on our hike out of the Yosemite Valley.

If this is our summit day, we'll rise early to enjoy the dome near sunrise, with a celebratory breakfast after we return to camp. Nevada and Vernal Falls will be both backdrop and soundtrack as we make our way down the Mist and John Muir Trails to the valley floor. At trail's end, we'll catch the park shuttle for a quick trip back to our cars at the Half Dome Village (formerly known as Curry Village) lot. Our estimated time of arrival back to our vehicles is approximately 4:30-6:30pm. However, please note that this may vary, as our return time is largely dictated by weather, trail conditions, hiking pace and other factors beyond our control. Breakfast, snacks and lunch included.

Backpacking 7 to 12.5 miles; elevation gain/loss 2,000 to 3,000'.

Itinerary map for Yosemite Backpacking – Half Dome

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary - this will help you and the field staff.

Already booked this trip? Sign into your online traveler profile for a more detailed list of what you'll need.

REI members can shop for gently used gear online or at most REI stores. Members can also trade in pre-loved used gear online or at any REI store in exchange for REI gift card credit. Check out Re/Supply at REI to learn more.

We provide

  • All Group Cooking Gear
  • Bear Canister
  • Group First Aid Kit
  • Stoves and Fuel
  • Tent(s)
  • Trekking Poles
  • Water Filter

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.