Yosemite Half Dome Hike + Backpacking

Yosemite National Park
5 Explorer Chicks
4 Days


Read HERE for info on 2023 Dates.


Hit your bucket list with all the feels on this women’s guided hiking and backpacking weekend! During your Yosemite Half Dome Hike adventure, tour Yosemite National Park as you climb the famous cables of Half Dome with ladies who do their own stunts. Live out every last one of those John Muir nature quotes in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. Mountains calling? Check. Between two pines? Check. Walk with nature? Double-check.

Guided Backpacking in Yosemite National Park Backcountry

Romp through the backcountry on a demanding, yet epic backpacking trip. Meet your new woman crushes in the Yosemite Valley as the landscape gives way to mountains, waterfalls, and a piney perfume that’ll make Yankee Candle totally jelly. Mother Nature swiped ALL THE WAY right. Leave the phone on airplane mode to immerse yourself in stunning national park backcountry over the course of four epic days. Climb steep, challenging trails to look down upon the Valley with a panoramic view that includes Mt. Starr King, Half Dome, Nevada Falls, Illilouette Falls, and plenty of ant-sized tourists with tiny selfie sticks.

Half Dome: Hiking to the Top

Fuel up for the real MVP—the famous cables of Half Dome! Blast that hiker booty (and bring plenty of water) while ascending 500 feet up a .5 mile of steps carved into the rock. Then, the real fun begins. It’s a 400-foot gain up the top of Half Dome with some points at 70%+ grades. Pace your footwork on wooden slabs spaced out on the climb as you get the upper body workout of a lifetime. Worth it? HELL YES!

Backpacking Equipment Provided

Don’t have backpacking equipment, but can Beastmaster the stairs? Perfect. Explorer Chick has you covered with:

  • a backpack
  • sleeping bag
  • sleeping pad
  • shared tent

All you need to do is show up for this Yosemite Half Dome Hike to backpack like a boss and get that National Parks bucket list checked.

Yosemite strictly limits the number of Half Dome and Backcountry permits to hike. Your trip dates are not confirmed until we have secured Half Dome and Wilderness Permits. We will know approximately 6 months in advance of your trip departure.

Do not book travel arrangements until you have received confirmation from Explorer Chick. 

You’ll have a choice to rebook to an available date or receive a full refund for trips without secured permits.

Day 1 – Welcome to Yosemite National Park

Kick off your Yosemite Half Dome guided hike and backpacking trip at the Backpackers Camp in Yosemite Valley. You’ll meet your Explorer Chick Guide in Half Dome Village at 5pm for our Welcome Orientation followed by dinner. Your guide will distribute gear, fit your packs, perform a duffel shuffle, and share details for your upcoming adventure. Afterwards, you’ll get to know your Explorer Chick sisters over a camp meal fit for a queen before settling in for the night at the Backpackers camp.

Meals: Welcome Dinner

Day 2 – Hello Yosemite’s Wild Backcountry

Tuck into a yummy breakfast before packing up camp to hike and explore the backcountry. Today is your shortest day of backpacking in the glorious wilderness with plenty of time to make adjustments and find your groove.

Breathe in the crisp pine air and howl like a huntress at the towering granite cliffs above. Unplug and get to know your fellow Explorer Chicks.

We’ll set up camp off the beaten path at Illilouette Creek before enjoying a relaxed after. Saunter off for some day hiking in the surrounding area, enjoy a good book, lizard on a sunny rock, or take a chilly dip to rinse off the day’s dirt. A hearty dinner and overshares cap off the evening!

Backpacking: 3.6 miles with +879ft -1,651ft elevation

Meals: B, L, D

 Day 3 – Little Yosemite Valley Camp and Half Dome Hike Summit

It’s a long day, but for good reason. It’s another morning in paradise waking up between the pines with a coffee in hand. We fuel up on a tasty breakfast before continuing our journey towards Half Dome. Today’s destination is the Little Yosemite Valley camp – which is THE base camp for Half Dome summits. Expect lots of flannel and excitement from other backpackers. Along the way we’ll stop to take in Nevada Falls.

Choose between kicking back at the wooded oasis with a dip in the Merced River or rest up that hiker booty for the evening!

Summit Day. No nervous poops allowed! Lace up your boots for a climb you’ll remember the rest of your life. We’ll time our departure perfectly because Explorer Chicks don’t simply climb Half Dome. No way. We do it in dramatic fashion – Let’s catch the sunset! HELL YES!

Hike 2.5 miles of switchbacks and 1,800’ up to the base of Half Dome. Your thighs will sing as you blast up 500’ and over a half mile of steps carved into the rock. It’s a 400’ gain up the cables with some points at 70%+ grades. You’ll be putting your grippy gloves to expert use as you get the upper body workout of a lifetime.

Soon there will be no cables to climb – cue the high fives and ugly tears of painful joy. This is so much better than doing an HR PowerPoint for work. You made it baby! Lean into your Explorer Chicks standing proudly at an altitude of 8,839’.

Ride your adrenaline high back down Half Dome (which some argue is more challenging) as we return to camp to climb into our sleeping bags and rest our tired legs.

Backpacking approximately 7 miles with 1,800 elevation gain

Half Dome:  6.7 miles with 2,700’ elevation gain

Meals: B, L, D

 Day 4 – Panorama Trail and Goodbyes

It’s the saddest day today as we wake our tired legs out of their slumber. We’ll pack up camp and hit Panorama Trail with sweeping views of the Valley from the southern rim. Peep Mt. Starr King, Half Dome, Nevada Falls and Illilouette Falls. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for Glamour Shots and picturesque snack stops before emerging from the wilderness at Glacier Point. Excessive goodbye hugging is encouraged.

We will be out of the backcountry at approximately 5pm (This is not guaranteed).

Panorama Trail to TH: 7 miles

Meals: B, L


*Half Dome Cables Route: The famous “cables” section is very steep and exposed. This can prove both physically and mentally challenging for some. This includes hikers outside of our Explorer Chick group. Please practice patience, prudence, and compassion as you ascend.

*Exact routes are determined by the permit lottery. We hope to adhere to this itinerary, however we may backpack alternate routes. Distances and elevations will vary trip to trip. (Train for 7-12.5 mile days with up to 2,200’ gains) Half Dome summit days will vary as well (Day 3 or Day 4). Every trip will be just as unique as the Explorer Chicks who travel with us!

*Explorer Chick reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your adventure leader as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, safety, or other unforeseen incidents. If an activity must be cancelled due to conditions and cannot be rescheduled, your Explorer Chick guide will work to find alternatives or modifications to ensure the best value for your trip.

  • 4 days/3 nights guided backpacking in Yosemite National Park with shared tents – 2 per tent.
  • Gear Included:
    • Shared Tents
    • Sleeping bag
    • Sleeping pad
    • Backpack
    • Trekking poles
    • Shared cookware
  • Half Dome hiking permit
  • All meals as indicated in itinerary: B-3, L-3, D-3
  • A commemorative Explorer Chick shirt.
  • A detailed Travel Guide upon booking with everything you need to know for your trip.
  • The freedom to enjoy your vacation and mindlessly wander!
  • 1 experienced Explorer Chick Guides ensuring your trip is seamless and unforgettable!
  • Small Group experience! Your Explorer Chick Adventure is exclusive and limited to 5 women.

*Packages do NOT include your transportation to Yosemite National Park or your park entrance fees, alcoholic beverages, costs for additional activities, Travel Insurance, and Explorer Chick Leader tips.

*Does NOT include your Explorer Chick Guide’s Tips – Tipping your Explorer Chick Guide is optional, but customary. If you wish to recognize your Explorer Chick Guide for exceptional service we recommend you tip total 10-25% of your trip costs.

*Explorer Chick reserves the option to modify trip itineraries at the discretion of your tour director as necessary due to weather, conditions, illness, injury, group dynamics, or other unforeseen incidents.

You will receive a travel guide attached to your booking confirmation with the rendezvous point, travel recommendations, and all of the information you’ll need to prepare for your Half Dome backpacking trip.

Important: Do NOT book your airfare until we have confirmed your trip and permits to hike. Half Dome Permits are awarded approximately 51/2 months in advance.

Your trip begins and ends in Yosemite National Park at the Half Dome Village in Yosemite Valley.

You are responsible for your own transportation to the Half Dome Village in Yosemite National Park as well as the Park Entrance fee. Your park entrance fee is good for the next 7 days upon entry if you plan to spend extra time in the park.

Your permit for Wilderness camping and Half Dome is included.

Arrival – Day 1: Arrive at Yosemite National Park at any time today before our official Orientation followed by a Welcome dinner at 5pm.

Departure Day- Day 4: – We will be out of the backcountry by approximately 5pm (This is not guaranteed).

Please confirm your trip is guaranteed before booking airfare. 

The Yosemite Half Dome Hike and Backpacking tour is for experienced hikers and backpackers. This trip is not recommended for “off the couch” outdoor enthusiasts or beginners.

Most of the Yosemite region lies above 7,500’ altitude. The trails are steep, varying, and challenging. The terrain can be rocky with dramatic elevation gains and losses. And, you’ll be doing it with a 30-35lb pack on your back.

Approximate Daily Hike mileage/gains:

  • Day 2 – 3.4 miles with 313’ elevation gain and mostly downhill
  • Day 3 – Backpacking approximately 7 miles with 1,800 elevation gain + Half Dome:  6.7 miles with 2,700’ elevation gain
  • Day 4 – Panorama Trail to TH: 7 miles

Plus, optional side hikes of varying distances/elevation.

You should very easily be able to hike on rough terrain at 2 miles per hour. Please read the itinerary thoroughly with the stated hikes and gains.

You should be training on rough and rugged terrain – not always perfectly paved sidewalks. Train how you play!

Find steps, a hill, or the Stairmaster and get to climbing! Your quads, booty, and calves will thank you. Train in all the weather – This even means rain!

Gradually build up your training pack weight and distances. Start with just your day pack for an hour hike a few days a week. Add distance, duration, and weight until you are able to carry the full required weight on a 6-7 hour hike leading up to your trip.

Train your tootsies! Do NOT show up with brand new hiking boots or trail shoes. You should be spending hours upon hours in your boots leading up to your adventure to break them in. Better to suffer blisters at home than to miss out due to painful hot spots on your feet. This is our number one injury. Do not let it happen to you!

Please consider your ability to meet the physical demands very seriously. It is for the safety of both you and our group. All Explorer Chicks will be required to sign an Acknowledgement of Physical Demands as part of their waiver upon booking.

Related Reads

Training for Half Dome and Half Dome Cables

How to Start Backpacking by Preparing for Your Trip

Backpacking Food and Backcountry Cooking Safety

How to Train for Hiking and Backpacking Trips

The Best Yosemite National Park Photo Spots for Drool-Worthy, Instagram-Ready Photos

Still not convinced that THIS is the adventure for you?

We’ve rounded up some of our most popular blog posts, so you can get to know us a bit better and learn what really goes down on your Explorer Chick Adventure.

You can always reach us by email with more questions! Info@ExplorerChick.com

To protect your travel investment and your hide, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. World Nomads is our trusted travel insurance provider. Receive an no-hassle, online quote in less than 2 minutes.

Questions? We love them! Check out our FAQ’s page first. You’ll probably find your answer there.

You can also send us an email. Info@ec-old.design-works.com

Trip Price:


Save $200 with Early Bird Pricing!

See our Discount page for Codes and Expirations!

Non-Refundable Deposit: $200 due at booking to secure your spot

Payment Plans Available: Email payments@ec-old.design-works.com after booking to set up your monthly payment plan.

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