The National Park Service has announced that permits will now be required everyday of the week for the iconic Half Dome in Yosemite National Park during the 2011 summer season. The move is designed to prevent overcrowding on the trail that leads to the summit and is expected to make the steep hike safer for all involved.
Earlier this year, the park service announced that permits would be required on the weekends, but they found that that simply moved more of the crowd to weekdays. On average, about 400 people hike the trail on those weekdays, as opposed to about 800 on the weekends. With that in mind, the NPS capped the number of available permits to 400 per day.
To add another level of planning to the process, permits can not be obtained on site at the park. Instead, they’ll need to be purchased up to four months in advance through the National Parks Reservation System. The price of the permit is a mere $1.50, but you’ll now need to know exactly when you plan to make the hike and order your permit accordingly.
The “trail” to the summit of Half Dome can barely be called that. A set of cables run up the side of the rock face, which give hikers something to hold on to as they pull themselves up the granite slab, which has wooden beams spaced out along the way. On busy days, the lines can be slow and if someone slips, it is easy to take down others with them. The new permitting system will hopefully take away some of the crowding, and make the entire experience a safer and more rewarding one for all involved.
If you’re planning a trip to Yosemite in 2011, you’ll definitely want to ensure that you get your hands on a permit for Half Dome plenty early. It is one of the most popular things to do in the park, and definitely worth the trip.It would be a shame to go and not be allowed on the hike.
[Photo credit: Sjoplin via WikiMedia]