If your summer plans call for an overnight trip to the Enchantments near Leavenworth, mark Feb. 15 on your calendar. It’s the first day the online lottery is open for permits to spend the night in the backcountry area.
The area is part of the Alpine Lake Wilderness in the Cascades, and demand for the permits has increased dramatically over the past decade. A total of 2,300 people applied in 2012, according to the U.S. Forest Service. That grew to 24,614 in 2019, with Forest Service awarding 2,060 permits. The Core Enchantments area was the most popular, with the chance of getting a permit at 1.9%.
Carly Reed, wilderness and climbing program manager, said the lottery helps protect fragile resources in the Alpine Lakes area.
“It also helps preserve the wilderness character for generations to come,” she said in a news release.
The online lottery runs from Feb. 15-29 on recreation.gov for backpackers, horse riders and outdoor enthusiasts to camp overnight between May 15 and Oct. 31. Permits are required to spend the night, a Forest Service news release said. The Enchantments are divided into five zones, and applications are limited to one per person.
There are a few changes this year:
- Group size and alternate group leader: People applying for permits in the Core Enchantments area need to indicate group size. The entry quota is allocated by person, not group, as it is in the other four zones. Also, an alternate group leader must be identified during the lottery application process. Alternate group leaders may not apply for a permit or reserve a permit in the same season, and alternate group leaders cannot be added or changed after the application is submitted.
- Parking: Parking will only be allowed in the Eightmile Trailhead and Stuart Lake parking lots.
Following the pre-season lottery, any remaining permits are available on a first come, first served basis through the www.recreation.gov advance reservation system. Only a few unreserved permits are available on a daily “walk-in lottery” basis held each morning during the summer at the ranger station in Leavenworth.
Not all dates and zones for the season are taken during the lottery and any open dates available can be reserved after the lottery ends. Lottery results will be released April 1. Self-issue day-use permits are available at trailheads.
For additional trip planning or lottery information see the Enchantment Area Wilderness Permit site https://go.usa.gov/xd4Cf or call the Wenatchee River Ranger Station at 509-548-2550.