Changes to Enchantments Permits Ahead
Enchantment lottery applications will now be available online, starting February 28, 2011, and running through March 20, 2011. Overnight visitors must obtain one of these permits to camp in the basin from June 15 - October 15.
Camping in the Enchantments Lakes Basin is a rite of passage for many Northwest hikers. But it is not one that comes as easily as hiking in and pitching a tent. From June 15 to October 15, all overnight visitors must obtain a quota-based permit in order to camp in this sublime basin. With demand far exceeding capacity, scoring a permit has become a rite of passage, too.
Veterans of the application process can expect a number of changes this year as the application process moves online.
Starting in 2011, the lottery process will be handled via www.recreation.gov, the same site that today processes campground reservations and permits for popular U.S. Forest Service wilderness areas such as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and national park attractions, such as the cables on Yosemite's Half Dome.
Lottery applications for the Enchantment Permit Area will be accepted from February 28, 2011 to March 20, 2011. Previously, this window was only a single week.
Applications will continue to be accepted for any unfilled slots or slots that open up due to cancellations. It will also now be possible to cancel a reservation and receive a refund online. In the past, no refunds were available. The website vendor will charge a flat $5 service fee per permit on top of the usual fee of $5 per person per day. If you are a two-person group going on a four-day trip, your permit will cost $45. For those without Web access, phoning in your application is an option. Notification of whether your application is granted or rejected should be much quicker than the previous six-week process. It will still be necessary to pick up your actual permit in person at the Leavenworth Ranger Station either the evening before or the morning of the first day of your trip.
While reservations are recommended, a small number of walk-in permits are issued by drawing each morning at the Wenatchee River Ranger Station, Monday through Saturday, at 7:45 am.
For more information, visit the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Enchantments website or go straight to www.recreation.gov to apply starting February 28th.
Special thanks to Matt Fraser for researching the changes to the permit process.