Hikers have only nine days left to apply for a camping permit in the Enchantments area of Alpine Lakes Wilderness. 

Applications are being taken until midnight next Wednesday, March 1 for the 2,700 camping slots available from May 15 through October 31. 

Robin DeMario with the Okanogan-Wenacthee National Forest says there were 39,000 applications submitted last year. 

"The Alpine Lakes area has become very popular in social media," said DeMario. "A lot of people look at those photos that people share and want to go to those locations." 

The permits allow groups of up to eight people to camp overnight in one of the five zones in The Enchantments area. 

  • Core Enchantment Zone: 24 people per day*
    Colchuck Zone: 3 groups per day
    Stuart Zone: 4 groups per day
    Snow Zone: 5 groups per day
    Eightmile / Caroline Zone: 3 groups per day 

Permits are required for day and overnight use in the area. The system is managed according to the Wilderness Management Plan and the 1964 Wilderness Act, to provide protection of fragile resources and preservation of the wilderness character. 

Image of hikers in The Enchantments from Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
Image of hikers in The Enchantments from Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

"The permit lottery system was put in place because of the impacts and the damage that was occurring to that area from so many people visiting," said DeMario. "This is a way to limit the number overnight visitors so that those impacts do not continue. And it has been successful in that effort.” 

Only about seven percent of last year’s applicants received a camping permit through the lottery. 

Demario said the Forest Service wants to remind the public that there are many spots in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and western national forests that also have same sort of breathtaking views found in The Enchantments. 

There were also several rescues of stranded hikers last summer, with one of the rescues getting national media attention because its dramatic circumstances. 

The lottery drawing takes place on March 8, 2023 (1:55 a.m. PT). 

According to the U.S. Forest Service, The Enchantments area is typified by rugged glaciated peaks and a series of lakes ranging from 4,400 feet to 7,800 feet in elevation. 

Lower elevation trails and lakes are forested, while the upper lakes are within an alpine environment. Although the area is high use, trails are very primitive with steep, rocky sections. Travel is difficult in areas. 

Also, the weather can vary in the Cascade Mountains. May, June, September and October are considered "shoulder seasons" and visitors can expect to encounter snow and winter-like conditions. 

Day and overnight visitors need to check the weather and be prepared for all weather types throughout the season. 

The Enchantments are accessible off of Icicle Road to a parking area 13.5 miles southwest of Leavenworth.

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