Yosemite Women's Backpacking - Half Dome

Trip Length4 Days
Group Size4–10
Activity level
Starting from
$1,999 for REI Members
$2,198 for non-members
DeparturesJul 2024-Oct 2024

From the valley floor to an iconic summit, experience the heart of Yosemite National Park on a four-day backcountry adventure worthy of your bucket list.

Perfect for those seeking a truly epic Yosemite adventure, this backpacking trip takes you from the Valley to the summit of Half Dome—8,842 feet of granite and grandeur. Against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, we pass through high-country meadows carpeted with wildflowers, listen to waterfalls and chirping chickadees, swim in crystal-clear alpine lakes and marvel at some of America's most magnificent scenery.

Our exceptional female guides lead the way—sharing Yosemite's secrets, preparing spectacular meals (some of the best you've ever had on a camping trip), and imparting field-tested wisdom on gear and backcountry skills. We travel between five and twelve miles every day, exploring the diversity of the Yosemite backcountry and enjoying campfire camaraderie at night. When the sun comes up, we don our packs and hit challenging trails. On the summit of Half Dome, with the valley floor stretching out beneath us, we revel in our achievement and the beautiful trails our journey has opened to us.

2025 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 2025 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

Each night, we savor delicious guide-prepared dinners and the warm companionship of our trail-mates before tucking into our cozy tents for some well-earned rest.

Trip Highlights

  • Hike to the summit of Yosemite's most iconic peak on this four-day adventure
  • Enjoy unforgettable vistas of one of America's most beloved national parks
  • Learn backpacking skills and wilderness camping basics from expert female guides
  • Get gear tips and improve your backcountry cooking skills
  • REI Women's Adventure—designed for women, guided by women

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 guides; meals as noted on the daily itinerary; tents; 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 Women's Backpacking - Half Dome
Day 1

Welcome to Yosemite where our backpacking adventure begins!

Our trip begins in Yosemite National Park, California. We meet our guides and our backpacking companions in Yosemite Valley in the late afternoon for orientation and gear check. At the orientation, our guides provide invaluable tips about proper pack fitting for the female physique and discuss various other gear necessities with women's considerations in mind. After our gear check and review of the upcoming itinerary, we have an opportunity to relax and enjoy dinner together at camp. Please allow yourself plenty of time to get to the campground, as traffic may get congested in the valley during peak season. Dinner included.

Day 2

Set out for a full day of backpacking. Learn wilderness camping skills.

Today we enjoy breakfast before setting out on foot for our first backcountry campsite. We distribute group gear and food, review techniques for correctly packing a backpack, and discuss our route. Depending on our permitted route, we may start with either a park shuttle transfer to our trailhead (approximately one hour) or head directly to our trailhead from the valley floor. This is typically a full first day of backpacking, with time en route for lunch, a myriad of photo stops, and perhaps a dip in a mountain creek. Before dinner, our guides offer a primer on wilderness camping basics that covers such subjects as proper tent set-up in all conditions, sleeping comfort, fire building and backcountry bathroom etiquette. At dusk, look forward to camaraderie around the campfire as we watch for shooting stars overhead. All meals and snacks provided.

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

Day 3

Half Dome summit day! Enjoy a primer in backcountry cooking tonight.

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 daypack, or we may continue our hike with fully loaded packs to a 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. Before dinner tonight, the guides discuss a variety of backcountry cooking tips and techniques including stove and fuel choices, lightweight ingredient options, caloric goals, basic recipes and backpacking drink options. A hearty guide-prepared dinner will satisfy your belly and the Sierra stars will satisfy your soul. All meals and snacks provided.

Backpacking: 7 to 9 miles; elevation gain/loss: 2,000 to 3,000' depending on our route.

Day 4

Hike past roaring Vernal and Nevada Falls on return to the trailhead.

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 Women's Backpacking - Half Dome

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. 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.