No other landmark in Yosemite is as well recognized and beloved as Half Dome, the steely granite monolith towering 4,347 feet above Yosemite Valley. Geologist Josiah Whitney declared it “inaccessible” in 1870 but was proven wrong only five years later when a climber succeeded in scaling the back of the dome to the summit. Since then, the route has become so popular—and crowded—that the National Park Service was forced to establish a permit lottery in 2011 to keep numbers at a manageable 50,000 or so per year. Though many want to try it, the steep 16-mile hike—including the last 400 feet via cables—is for neither the faint of heart nor weak of limb. If that sounds too challenging, know that there are several spectacular views of Half Dome that require only short hikes or no walking at all. Hike a short distance to Cook’s Meadow in the valley, take a bus to Glacier Point, or drive to Olmsted Lookout or the Tunnel View overlook on Highway 41.