Man standing across from Half Dome at Snow Creek in YosemiteWhitetail Deer in Yosemite with Half Dome in the backgroundWildland Trekking backpacker in front of Yosemite FallsIndian Rock Arch in Yosemite National ParkCampfire on the North Rim of Yosemite Valley with Half Dome behindWildland Trekking hikers laying down in front of Half Dome in YosemiteMountain vistaGroup of Wildland Trekking backpackers at Snow Creek and North Dome

Yosemite Falls and North Dome Traverse

Yosemite Valley, CA
4.9 (41 reviews)

Trip Highlights

  • Early Season Trip
  • Amazing Views
  • Waterfalls
  • Natural Arch
  • Rejuvenating Solitude
  • 3000 Foot Ascent of Snow Creek Trail
  • Summit of North Dome

Description

Explore the North Rim of Yosemite Valley on this four or five day excursion into John Muir’s famous “Range of Light.” This trip is a great early season Yosemite adventure up to the rim that overlooks one of the world’s scenic treasures, Yosemite Valley. It offers a wonderful opportunity to escape the crowds, absorb some of the best views in the Park, sleep under the stars, and check out some of Yosemite’s most amazing waterfalls and peaks.

This trek begins and ends in Yosemite Valley, where El Capitan and Half Dome tower over the famous meadows. We’ll explore majestic Yosemite Falls, North Dome and Indian Rock while catching expansive views of the entire Yosemite Valley far below us and the incomparable High Sierra all around us! Photo opportunities are plentiful as the trail reveals ever-changing views of Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Tenaya Canyon, Mount Watkins, and many more of Yosemite’s scenic wonders.


NEED TO KNOW: YOSEMITE PERMITS

We enter the permit lottery for this trip 5 months prior to the trip start date. To create the best experience for our guests, we also apply for excellent, but lesser known, alternate itineraries. If we initially secure only an alternate itinerary, you can accept it, transfer to another trip or request a full refund. However,  we recommend accepting alternate itineraries and remaining on the trip, as there is a second (and more promising) opportunity to secure the primary permit approximately 1 week before the start date. We will update you and notify you of your options throughout this process. In the case that we are unable to secure the primary permit the week before, we will still run the trip with the backup itinerary (which is a highly rated, world class trip). In this case regular cancellation policies will apply.

Read more …
4 Days From USD
$1595 Per Person
5 Days From USD
$1900 Per Person
Trip Type: Guided Backpacking Trip
Difficulty Level:
Solitude Level:
Group Size: 1-10 Guests
Trip Length: 4-5 Days
Distance: 19MI / 30KM

DIFFICULTY LEVEL 4

Scale of 1-5. 1 is least difficult; 5 is most difficult

SUMMARY OF DIFFICULTY
This trek follows well maintained trails that includes a Day 2 climb up Snow Creek of roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile for up to 3 miles. Day 4 descends over 4000 feet along switchbacks on the Yosemite Falls trail.

Hiking Distances:

4-8 mi

Backpack Weight:

35-45 lbs

Terrain:

Lightly Rugged

Max Daily Elev. ↑↓:

3118 ft

Heights Exposure:

Moderate

Please Note: Terrain, Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure ratings reflect the section or day of the trip with the maximum difficulty of each. Much of the trip is at easier levels. See the trip itinerary for more detailed information. Backpack Weight ratings are estimates that account for Wildland-provided gear, guest clothing, personal items and a share of group food. By packing light it’s often possible to stay on the lower end of the weight range. Pack weights also decrease during the trip.

PHYSICAL DEMANDS OF THIS TRIP

  • Hiking uphill or downhill with a 35-45 lb backpack for 6-8 hours
  • Maintaining balance and footing on lightly rugged terrain
  • Hiking with occasional, moderate heights exposure
* For an official and complete list of physical requirements, please see our Essential Eligibility Criteria.

SOLITUDE LEVEL 2

1 least solitude, 5 most solitude

We rate this Yosemite backpacking trip a solitude 2. You can expect as much as an hour of solitude at a time.

Private Trips

Travel in perfect company by booking a private trip exclusively for your group!

Our sliding scale for private trips is based on the final number of guests in your group. Rates are per person and do not include sales tax, national park fees or guide gratuity. The final rate is based on the actual number of guests on the trip and may adjust based on cancellations or additions.

Please Note: you can also enjoy a private trip at our normal scheduled rates by filling any empty tour to capacity. However, if group members drop from the tour those spots will automatically become available on our website for instant booking. By purchasing a private trip at the rates listed below, your trip will remain exclusive to your group regardless of cancellations. 

Private Rates FOr This Trip

  • 2 People: Rate x 2.5
  • 3 People: Rate x 1.75
  • 4 People: Rate x 1.25
  • 5+ People: Rate x 1.15

*all rates are per person

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Itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1

This guided Yosemite backpacking trip begins with rendezvous in Yosemite Valley in Curry Village at 6PM on Day 1.  You will easily spot your guide waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat. We’ll conduct an orientation meeting, after which we’ll get settled in the Backpackers Camp a stone’s throw away from majestic Tenaya Creek and under the spectacular domes and cliffs of Yosemite Valley. We’ll enjoy dinner either at Curry Village or in camp.

Colorful stream and mountain view

Day 2

  • Hiking Mileage: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3118 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 374 feet

Our hike begins with a leisurely “shake-out” hike around the north flank of Half Dome in the western end of Yosemite Valley. We skirt the south side of Mirror Lake and after a couple of miles take a side trail to have a quick peek at Snow Creek Falls as it cascades down the north side of Tenaya Canyon. To the left of the falls is the next section of our trip, the daunting Snow Creek Trail! We won’t let it intimidate us as we tackle the 3000 ft climb, slowly and steadily. The awesome views of Tenaya Canyon and the north face of Half Dome will take our minds off the numerous switchbacks until the trail finally reaches the shade of a black oak forest near the northern rim of Yosemite Valley! A bit farther on, we make camp along the gentle cascades of Snow Creek and enjoy the pine scented air as our guide prepares a well-deserved gourmet dinner.

Hiker overlooking spectacular mountain vista

Day 3

  • Hiking Mileage: 8.0 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2145 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 1800 feet

Today’s hiking bill of fare features pleasant forest walking, stupendous views, Yosemite’s only above water natural arch, and the summit of Half Dome’s smaller twin, North Dome! We break camp fairly early and continue north along Snow Creek through an enjoyable forest of lodgepole pines. We steadily gain elevation until we reach the literal high point of the trip at Indian Rock. Here photographic opportunities abound as the delicate arch frames Half Dome just two and a half miles across the canyon. After enjoying the views and a hearty lunch it is all downhill through increasingly open country to the next highlight of the trip… the summit of North Dome. Half Dome–just 1.5 miles away, now—dominates the view south, and the rest of Yosemite Valley unfolds at our feet. As we watch the shadows lengthening, we hurry the last two miles to set up our camp along a cool forested stream and look forward to enjoying our mountain top location to view one of the best night skies anywhere.

Natural stone bridge

Day 4

  • Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1160 feet
  • Elevation Loss: 4240 feet

After an incredible sunrise overlooking Yosemite Valley we will have a hot breakfast and breakdown our tents. Today we descend from Yosemite’s North Rim backpacking towards our destination at historic Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley. But, the scenic highlights aren’t over yet, as our trail descends alongside Yosemite Falls, one of the top attractions in the park. At 2425 feet tall, it is one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. We descend sharply to the base of the Upper Falls and enjoy the cooling mists of the spring snowmelt as the thundering water roars past the trail. The last few switchbacks pass quickly as we near the trailhead, where we enjoy a last lunch together and reminisce over our successful attempt at backpacking Yosemite Valley’s North Rim trail!

Lone tree in front of waterfall

5-day Variation

This hike is often done as a five day trip with a layover the second day at the Snow Creek campsite. That day is be spent exploring the surrounding high country with excursions to the historic Snow Creek Cabin and the summit of secluded Mount Watkins.

Important: this trip is operated as either a 4-day or 5-day itinerary, and is confirmed as such in advance. Variation of trip length does not mean guests can choose to leave a trip or early or extend it a day.

Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes. Normal terms and conditions apply to trips with itinerary changes.

Trip Dates & Booking

TRIP DATES & BOOKING

Click on a date to register. You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.

Available to Book

AVAILABLE TO BOOK

This trip is available and bookable online! Click on the date to register now or contact us online to book through our award-winning customer service team!

Going Fast

GOING FAST

This trip has 1 or 2 spots remaining and is bookable online! Click on the date to book now or contact us online to book through customer service.

Request a Reservation

REQUEST A RESERVATION

This trip is exclusively booked through customer service due to logistics with lodging, permits, staffing, availability, or something else. Please contact us online or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to request a reservation.

* We apply for this trip’s permit 5 months in advance. For trip dates fewer than 5 months away, we have already been issued a permit, either for the primary itinerary or an excellent backup itinerary. If a backup was secured, we will apply again for the primary itinerary 1 week prior. Please email  us or call us at 800-715-HIKE (4453) to learn the permit status of each trip date!

Don't see your dates? Call us! We may be able to add new trip dates.

800-715-HIKE (4453)

Trip Details

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, backcountry sleeping pad and multi-day backpack
  • High quality, synthetic sleeping bag (professionally laundered after every use) – or bring your own.
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
  • Trained hiking guide(s) with years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. See Guide Bios.
  • National park backcountry camping permits
  • Bear cannisters for food storage
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and communication device (InReach Explorer or satellite phone)
  • Mandatory 5% national park fee that passes through directly to Yosemite

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear (see recommendations)
  • National park entrance fee
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed information about what to pack.

Meals: What to Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.

Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:

  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware synthetic-fill sleeping bags (or bring your own)
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Bear cannisters
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Emergency communication device(s)

Guest Packing List

When you register for this tour you’ll receive access to a printable, downloadable trip information packet with a detailed packing list specific to this trip (click here to see it now.) All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, a recommended clothing system, a headlamp or flashlight, a hydration system (water bottles and/or bladder) and other items specific to each trip.

Additionally, some guests choose to bring their own sleeping bag. We supply high quality, synthetic fill bags that are professionally laundered after every trip. Synthetic fill is non-allergenic, insulates when damp and stands up well to repeated washings, but is heavier and bulkier than down. If you’re able to bring your own down sleeping bag, there are multiple benefits. If not, we’ve got you covered!

Trip Logistics

Trip Logistics

How Do I Register?

Reserve your spot today! In the Trip Dates & Booking section of this page, the green and red dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you’re ready to register we’ll email you a link to a registration profile. You’ll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit.

Feel free to call us for more info – we’re here 7 days a week!

Where Do We Meet?

This trip meets in Yosemite Valley in the parking lot of Curry Village near the bear boxes at shuttle stop 14 at 6PM on Day 1. Your guide will contact you approximately 10 days before your trip to coordinate this rendezvous and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will be waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. Personal vehicles can remain parked at Curry Village during your trip.

Click here to see a printable, downloadable trip information packet with more detailed information about flights, shuttles, recommended lodging and more.

Travel to Yosemite Valley

TRAVEL TO YOSEMITE VALLEY BACKPACKERS CAMP

This trip meets in Yosemite Valley in the parking lot of Curry Village near the bear boxes at shuttle stop 14 at 6PM on Day 1. Your guide will contact you approximately 10 days before your trip to coordinate this rendezvous and answer any last minute questions you have. Your guide will be waiting for you in a Wildland Trekking hat and shirt. This trip includes dinner and camping that night at the backpackers camp. Personal vehicles can remain parked at Curry Village during your trip.

Many Wildland guests rent vehicles or drive their own to Yosemite Valley. However, you can also travel to and from Yosemite National Park using train and bus options from much of California:

From FresnoYosemite Area Rapid Transit (YARTS) is offering 1 bus ride each direction from Fresno to Yosemite Valley. To reach the Yosemite Valley Backpackers Camp get off at Curry Village and either walk or take a national park shuttle to North Pines Campground. Walk to the back of the campground and across the footbridge to the camp.

From Other California Cities: by rail on the Amtrak San Joaquin Train to the city of Merced (serviced by most large cities in California) or by Amtrak “Thruway” Bus Service from Merced to Yosemite Valley. To book your trip, use Amtrak’s Online Reservation Service to book round-trip Amtrak travel to “YOS” (Yosemite Valley).

Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day’s rendezvous time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will be out of the backcountry normally before 5 PM (this time is not guaranteed, as a variety of circumstances can influence our exact return time) on the final day.

Safety Precautions

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT’s, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. Guides adhere to standardized risk management protocols in case of any potential or actual incident, and all tours carry an emergency communication device and comprehensive first-aid kit. Additionally we have a “24/7” system through which guides or guests can reach Wildland support personnel at any time.

If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Essential Eligibility Criteria (“EEC”) have been specifically identified to help you understand the skills and abilities necessary to participate on each Wildland trip, and they apply uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability.

Once you identify a trip in which you may be interested, please carefully review the EEC and itinerary details. If after reviewing the EEC that apply to your desired trip, you determine you need an accommodation in order to meet the EEC, please contact us prior to registering to discuss your requested accommodation.

The EEC exist for your own safety and the safety and enjoyment of all participants. If you are unable to meet the EEC for the trip, with or without an accommodation, you are not eligible for that trip. If you register and arrive for a trip for which you do not meet the EEC, you will be disqualified from participation on the trip and will be dismissed or evacuated from the trip without a refund.

Guide Shifts

The guide(s) for this trip work daily shifts from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. During off hours (9 p.m. to 5 a.m.) the guides’ time is their own, and they are free to sleep, rest, take personal time, postpone guest requests until the next morning, and any other legal, reasonable activity people engage in when not working. We ask all guests to respect the guides’ off-duty hours by not waking or asking anything of them unless there is a true emergency. Also, state law requires that employees receive an uninterrupted 10 minute break every four working hours, so guides are required to take four 10 minute breaks between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Age Restrictions

Age restrictions on this trip are as follows:

  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis

Weather in the Sierras

Being a high mountain environment, the Sierra Nevada Mountains are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. This is an exciting aspect of being in the mountains. On trips in June, snow is a possibility, and the rest of the summer rain is always a possibility on your trip. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
Month
Valleys
Alpine
hi
low
hi
low
January
49°
26°
45°
25°
February
55°
28°
46°
26°
March
59°
31°
48°
27°
April
65°
35°
54°
30°
May
73°
42°
62°
37°
June
81°
51°
71°
46°
July
89°
57°
77°
50°
August
89°
56°
81°
53°
September
82°
51°
71°
46°
October
74°
39°
62°
37°
November
58°
31°
51°
29°
December
48°
26°
46°
25°

Accommodations

Accommodations

BACKCOUNTRY SLEEPING

TENT CAMPING

Sleeping on backpacking trips is in premier 1-person, 2-person or 4-person backcountry tents. Solo travelers, and anyone else who requests it, are issued single tents. Top-of-the-line self-inflating sleeping pads and synthetic-fill sleeping bags (professionally laundered after every trip) are also provided.

BACKCOUNTRY CUISINE

FRESH & DELICIOUS

Meals from breakfast Day 1 through lunch the last day are fully included and prepared by your guide. We never use dehydrated backpacking meals, instead serving freshly prepared, delicious backcountry cuisine made with a variety of common and specialty ingredients that travel well in the wilderness.

yosemite campsite with hikers

AMAZING CAMPSITES

yosemite campsite with hikers
IN THE ACTION

Of course campsites vary tremendously by destination, trip and even by the individual day of a trip. However, you can expect to camp in beautiful areas that put you right in the action to make the most of your backpacking adventure. We carefully design our itineraries with campsites in mind.

Trip Reviews

Trip Reviews

  • Average Customer Ratings:

  • 4.9 (41 reviews)
Michael T.
5.0

Mike T.

4 months ago

The trek was incredible. I really have looked around at the maps and different trips and the north rim looks to be one of the best treks you could chose. Rafee was amazing. She was a great guide who has seen years of trail experience and knows what she is doing. I would be careful going near edges. It is better to go in august and September because weather is temperate and bug problem isn’t an issue. As a side note, I would avoid discussing any politics with any of the people there as it can be extremely unpleasant and volatile when you are on the hike. I consider myself a conservative and Trump supporter (even though I agree with many ideas on the left) and was ganged up on by the people on the hike I was with. They made it unpleasant and unenjoyable by making me feel like an outsider. So just beware that the crowd of people that most of these treks will attract are very liberal (to the point of mindless brainwashing), so if you can’t stand being around npcs or indoctrinated people, plan a group trek with like minded people. If you are able to avoid having these sort of convos, you should have no problem. If you like 7$ a gallon gas, multiple wars of liberal admins, and complete collapse of the US dollar and society, you’ll fit right in. Anyhow, I would definitely do it again, minus engaging in conversations about why we need to send money to Ukraine or why Trump is evil. I would just go and meditate and find my inner peace which was the whole point of why I went hiking. So just a heads up so you don’t make that same mistake I did. Besides that, everything was awesome and Rafee is a great guide. Last note, try to tie things down while you hike because I lost my sunglasses and my life straw water kit that fell out of pack side pockets.

Andrew G
5.0

Fabulous

4 months ago

This trip was sick! But be warned, the first 3-4 miles of the trip on the first day are no joke. I would say you need to be in pretty good shape to do the first day and it would be prudent to train on some steep hills with a heavy pack beforehand. I hadn't backpacked in over two decades so I didn't know what I was getting into. It's totally worth it though. The scenery and high perches were insane. Our guide was also fabulous. I can't wait to go on another trip!

Kurt J
5.0

Wonderful!

4 months ago

Out of this world experience made even more special by the beauty of Yosemite and the expertise of our amazing guide, Rafi. Such a smooth overall experience and will plan another one for certain.

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