Enchantments Permit Window Begins February 22
Lottery applications for the Enchantment Permit Area will be accepted from February 22 to March 13, 2012. Photo by Don Geyer.
For some hikers, the Enchantment Lakes Basin is a once in a lifetime backpacking experience. For others, its a special place to return to as often as possible. But whether hikers are able to hike in this sublime alpine wonderland this summer depends on one crucial factor: winning a coveted lottery permit.
From June 15 to October 15, all overnight visitors must obtain a quota-based permit in order to camp in the Enchantments area. Because demand far exceeds the number of permits available, it is highly recommended that hikers take part in the lottery drawing if they want to overnight this summer or fall.
This year, lottery applications for the Enchantment Permit Area will be accepted from February 22 to March 13, 2012.
Permits are required for overnight camping in the:
- Core Enchantment Lakes Zone,
- Snow Lakes Zone (includes Nada Lake)
- Colchuck Lake Zone (includes Horseshoe Lake)
- Lake Stuart Zone
- Eightmile Lakes / Caroline Lakes Zone
Like last year, the lottery process will be handled via www.recreation.gov, the same site that processes campground reservations for many U.S. Forest Service and Mount Rainier National Park campgrounds in Washington. There will be a $6 application fee, and applicants who are successful will be charged $5 per person per day.
Results of the lottery process will be sent out at midnight on March 15. Starting about 7am on March 16, unclaimed lottery allotments will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Do note that hikers who miss all of these windows may still be in luck for a walk-up permit. Twenty-five percent of the permits are held back for walk-ins, and will be available at 7:45 each morning except Sundays.
Tips for Snagging a Permit
When filling out a permit application, hikers are required to select the Enchantment Zone where they would like to camp, the number in their party and entry and exit dates. Applicants will be allowed to enter up to four possible itineraries, and flexibility will certainly improve the odds. Other tips include:
- Choosing mid-week dates, as trips starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday fill up first.
- Selecting dates outside of the popular August - early September window, like July or late September.
- Selecting a less-visited destination outside of the Core Enchantments Zone, such as the Eightmile/Caroline Zone, or stay in the Snow Lakes Zone and day hike into the Enchantment Lakes Basin.
- Keeping party sizes small (maximum is eight).
For more information, visit the or go straight to www.recreation.gov to apply beginning February 22nd. Good luck!