YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK — The hike up the granite monolith Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic in the nationwide system, but on Friday officials announced approval of a plan that permanently limits how many can do it.
National Park Service authorities will issue permits to limit the number of hikers to 300 a day, the target number since an interim plan was approved in 2010 to reduce congestion in a wilderness area and make the hike safer.
In a blow to environmental groups, the park also decided to keep in place the heavy metal cables drilled into the monolith that hikers use to steady themselves on the 45-degree final climb up slick granite. Some groups had argued that handrails do not belong in a federally designated wilderness area.
"With a place like Yosemite that is so dear and important to millions of people, everyone has ideas about what wilderness protection is. We tried to find a balance that allows people to still experience Yosemite while protecting Yosemite," said spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
Over the past decade the route had been inundated with up to 1,200 nature lovers a day seeking to experience the iconic mountain that is stamped on the California quarter, stitched on a line of outdoor clothing and painted on the side of the park's vehicles.