It’s that time of year again! WTA has noticed a spike in searches for the Enchantments in the Trip Reports section of our website. Hikers are flipping through calendars, e-mails are flying back and forth, and cell phones are buried deep into ears. It’s time to check the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website for Enchantment permit details!
To help ease overcrowding and impact, the number of overnight backpackers visiting the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness are limited, and a lottery-based system awards permits.
Permits for the Enchantments are required for trips between June 15 through October 15th.
There’s quite a bit of confusion about exactly how to get your best shot at the dates you’d like to reserve. Visit the Forest Service’s Enchantments permit page to familiarize yourself with the details.
The Wenatchee District begins randomly drawing applications on March 1st. You cannot mail in your reservation request before February 21. Applications received with a postmark before February 21 will be rejected. Results of the drawing are announced in April. Reservation applications are accepted beyond March 1, but the prime dates (especially summer weekends) usually fill in the first drawing. It doesn’t matter how early you get your application in, so long as it’s postmarked February 21 or after, and arrives at the ranger district by March 1. So long as the post-mark is on or between those dates, your chances are as good as anyone else’s. Got that?
There are new considerations for this years’ application process listed on the Okanogan-Wenatchee NF website. Be sure to use only the 2009 application form! Also, for the first time in a decade, fees have increased--to $5 per day per person.
I called the Wenatchee Ranger Station to ask how hikers can best increase their chances at obtaining a permit. The ranger emphasized that it is important for people to read the instructions closely! Incomplete applications may be rejected.
Also, flexibility is the key! It is more difficult to accommodate applications with rigid dates than those with flexibility. For example, instead of asking for July 1-4, you can include in the “Additional instructions on flexibility” section of the application, “any 4 dates from and including July 1st through and including September 17th.”
If you’re confused about any of the rather intricate details of the permit process, call the Wenatchee River Ranger District at (509) 548-2550.
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest website regarding Enchantment permits gives excellent, clear explanations of the application process and backcountry rules for a trip into the Enchantments. The Forest Service regularly patrols the Enchantments to ensure enforcement of the rules necessary to preserve this fragile area.
Another way to obtain a permit is to show up before the Wenatchee Ranger Station opens at 7:45 a.m. on weekdays during the permit season. A portion of the permits are saved for a walk-in drawing. Go to the Enchantments info page for more details.
You may be surprised to discover that a permit system is being designed for overnight trips in the Ingalls Lake area (Headlight Basin and other areas around Mount Stuart). Though this will not be in place this year, the Forest Service has been required to study ways to reduce impact.