By Robert Earle Howells

Half Dome Hike

When to Go: April to October

Round-Trip: 17.2 Miles

Level: Challenging Day Hike

This is the hike you’ll talk about as all the others fade into pleasant memories. Not only do you climb 4,800 feet out of Yosemite Valley and past Vernal and Nevada Falls, but the last 900 feet are right up the granite face of fabled Half Dome. Luckily, you get a hand from well-placed steel cables on your way the top of the dome. It’s a heart-thumping, insanely wonderful feeling to be hanging in space until you top out—and then the view takes over.

Insider Tip: Break it up by staying the night in Little Yosemite Valley campground, about halfway to Half Dome. This gives you a huge head start on the legions of hikers who do the dome every day. 

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