We hiked half dome with the cables "down" during the off season, no permits needed! We went on April 2nd, 2016.
Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most iconic scenery in the United States. Half Dome is the classic landmark of the national park, with up to 300 people hiking to the top of Half Dome during the summer. The 14 mile trail passes numerous scenic destinations like Vernal and Nevada Falls, while gaining a challenging 4,800 feet of elevation. While possible as a day hike, it takes most people 10 to 12 hours round trip. If you have climbing gear, you can avoid the permit system by going during the off season, when the cables are “down”. The cables are actually still there, but the poles holding them up at hand-rail height are gone, meaning you’ll need a harness and prussic cord to safely ascend.
You first reach Sub Dome, which might be covered in snow depending when you go. Finally, you’re at the famous cables. The cables ascend 400 feet to the top of Half Dome. The views from the top of Half Dome are unrivaled. The sheer cliff and impressive valley floor provide plenty of spectacular photo opportunities.
Over 3.7 million people visit this incredible national park every year. Even the car-accessible viewpoints, like Tunnel View, are breathtaking. Despite only being seven square miles, Yosemite is truly home to some of the most scenic views in the United States.