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Why You Should Skip Half Dome And Hike Clouds Rest

Just as much gain for way less pain.

By: Jessica Foiles + Save to a List

Mention that you're planning a visit to Yosemite National Park and you'll hear at least one person asking if you're planning on hiking the famous Half Dome. This iconic granite dome is something people from all walks of life recognize (does The North Face logo ring a bell) and while Half Dome is definitely a hike worth taking on, if you're looking for a less intense, just as insanely beautiful day hike, here are 5 reasons to take look into hiking Clouds Rest.

1. No permit needed

If you're planning on climbing the cables of Half Dome, you're going to need to get a permit. Permits are given away in a lottery system for each day, allowing for roughly 225 hikers and 75 backpackers to hike to the top of Half Dome daily. Clouds Rest requires no permit, which means no extra fees once you're in the park and no extra stress hoping to snag a permit.

Hike Clouds Rest | Photo: Addison Klinke

2. Crowd factor

Even though there isn't a permit required for Clouds Rest, rest assured that you will not have to deal with a mad rush of people trying to scramble the last section of the trail. While this is a well traveled trail, the length and intensity of the trail itself will scare away most people looking for a leisure day hike.

3. Watch hikers climb Half Dome from above

Make sure to pack some binoculars in your day pack, you'll be able to use them once your relaxing against the warm granite at the summit. Once you reach the top, you'll actually be sitting close to 1,000 ft. above Half Dome. Look over and watch the hikers climbing the cables while eating a snack and taking in what you've just accomplished.

Backpack to Clouds Rest from Glacier Point | Photo: Austin Trigg

4. Skip Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley is congestion city most of the time. Tour buses, stores, museums, it can be a little hectic to say the least. The trailhead for Clouds Rest is just 16 miles from Yosemite's eastern entrance at Tioga Pass, meaning you can stay in the far less busy Tuolumne Meadows area and skip the craziness of the valley.

5. Less strenuous, equally as stunning

Round trips vary depending on what trail head you're starting at, but Clouds Rest is roughly a 14.5 mile round trip with far less elevation gain. You'll be able to get to the summit quicker and spend more time soaking in the immense beauty that is Yosemite National Park.

Cover photo: Nathaniel Polta

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