Yosemite Backpacking – Half Dome

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4-10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,149 for REI Members
$1,275 for non-members
Departures Jul 2020-Sep 2020

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.

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 backpacks with weights of 35 to 40 lbs over steep 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. Day hiking with 35 to 40 lbs in the pack you intend to hike with on the trip and making sure your hiking boots are broken in before your trip is key. This is not a beginning backpacking trip. Previous experience is highly recommended.

  • 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

Day 1

Welcome to Yosemite with a trip orientation and dinner in camp.

Your trip begins in Yosemite National Park, CA. Today you will meet your guides and the other group members at the Backpackers' Campground, located at the far end of The North Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Group members must arrive at camp by 4:30 p.m. for orientation, dinner, gear check, and distribution of group gear and food. Please allow yourself plenty of time to get to the campground, as traffic may get congested 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'.

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.

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (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.