CENTRAL WASHINGTON –Rugged glaciated peaks, a series of lakes tucked into crannies and canyons, trails and forests, and awe-inspiring views all await explorers to the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.

Backpackers, horse users, and outdoor enthusiasts wanting to camp overnight in and around this beautiful area, between May 15 and October 31, will first need to obtain a permit through an online lottery. The 2020 Enchantment Permit Area pre-season Lottery is open February 15 (7 a.m. Pacific Time) through February 29 (11:59 p.m. PT) through the recreation.gov website.

“Permits are required for overnight use in this area,” said Wilderness & Climbing Program Manager Carly Reed. “Demand for overnight permits in this limited entry area far exceeds the number available, so a pre-season lottery will be held in February to allocate the majority of the permits.”

Self-issue day use permits are available at trailheads, only overnight permits are limited entry and obtained in the lottery.

“We know that thousands of people want to visit this area, so to sustain the health and diversity of this region the permit system was put in place in 1987,” Reed said. “We have to wisely manage this resource for people’s use and enjoyment. Everything we do is to help sustain forests for present and future generations.”

All use of this area brings impacts; utilizing the lottery permit system helps mitigate some of the negative impacts on the fragile resources found there,” Reed added.

Permit changes

People applying for Enchantment permits will see some changes in the permit system this year.

“Parking will only be allowed in the Eightmile Trailhead and Stuart Lake parking lots,” Reed said. “People must display in their vehicles a Northwest Forest Pass, the America the Beautiful Pass, or the Overnight Visitor Parking Pass that comes free with an Enchantments overnight permit. Day and overnight users must park in designated areas at trailheads.”

Other changes pertain to group size and alternate group leader.

“When applying for a permit in the Core Enchantments area make sure to indicate the minimum number of people in your group as that number cannot be changed at a later date. 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,” Reed said.

Availability after lottery

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 around 7 a.m. PT.

For additional trip planning or lottery information see the Enchantment Area Wilderness Permit or call the Wenatchee River Ranger Station at (509) 548-2550.