If summiting Yosemite National Park's iconic Half Dome is on your wish list for 2013, it's time to start planning. The National Park Service preseason lottery for Half Dome permits opens on March 1 and runs through March 31. Permits are required to hike Half Dome on every day of the week, and only 300 visitors will be allowed on the trail daily.
Although hikers and backpackers can also obtain permits for Half Dome through a daily lottery that will take place during the hiking season, the majority of available permits—225 per day—will be distributed through this preseason lottery. Would-be hikers submit applications through the Recreation.gov website. Applications can also be submitted via phone by calling (877) 444-6777. The call center is open between 7 am and 9 pm Pacific time.
Each applicant may apply for up to six permits (for a party of up to 6 people) on up to seven dates. A trip leader must be named on each application, and an applicant can apply as a trip leader only once. An alternate trip leader may also be listed.
Recreation.gov charges a nonrefundable fee of $4.50 (online) or $6.50 (by phone) at the time of application. Notifications about the preseason lottery results will arrive via e-mail on April 15 and the results will also be available online or by phone. If permits are available for more than one of an applicant's requested dates, a permit will be issued for the highest priority date. If the number of permits requested is unavailable on any of the requested dates, no permits will be awarded.
Applicants from nearby Fresno and the world over will be participating in this year's lottery. In 2012, 17,098 applicants submitted permit requests. The current NPS estimate for the 2013 Half Dome cable season is May 24 through October 14.
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