How To Get a Good Enchantments Permit, Lottery Dates, and Tips

Sureal

Time for the Enchantments permit lottery is almost here, folks. Here's how Timea and I are going to apply for our's this February 15.

First, what are the Enchantments?

Here's how I described this one of a kind place in our Core Enchantments trip story:

The Enchantments is considered by many to be the best backpacking destination in Washington State. It sits very high on many bucket lists, and for those of us lucky enough to have been there, it holds a very special place in our hearts. It is the perfect combination of lakes, streams, alpine meadows, dramatic rocky peaks with mythological names, high trails, remote camps, and yes, goats! Lots of goats! The catch is that you need tons of luck to get past the lottery gods because you can't go there without a permit. And in spring, when they're issued, thousand of applicants fight fiercely for that piece of paper (not an actual fight, but it feels like one).

Step 1: Set a reminder for February 15

Bookmark this page and set a reminder for February 15. Immediately e-mail your friends and see how many are going to join you; humans only, as pets are not allowed in the Enchantments. The cost of the permit, should you get one, gets relatively high if you book all 8 available spots, so knowing in advance how many are going to be in your party saves you some money.

Step 2: Read the permit page top to bottom

Between now and February 15, read the Enchantments Area Wilderness Permits Page (direct link) in its entirety. Yes, it's a long page, but you want to read it at least once.

In a big change this year, they only allow one application per person. In previous years we could each apply once per zone.

Step 3: Our own application, and tips

Timea and I were lucky enough to have seen the Enchantments before when we were invited to join friends' permits. That place is pretty awesome! Check out these two stories we posted about our Core Enchantments and Eightmile/Caroline Lakes trips.

For our permit application, here's our take for this year:

  • First permit application: We will apply for a Core Enchantments permit under my name, for the month of August. We will enter through Lake Colchuck. We want to go back to Little Annapurna, Dragontail, and generally, spend more time in the upper enchantments, then slowly descend, passing Inspiration Lake and exit through Snow Lakes. Mid-August is a great time to go because it's warm and the snow is mostly gone. We will probably spend 5 days/4 nights there. With a Core permit, we can sleep at any camp regardless of the zone, so we don't need to decide in advance where we're going to spend the night.
  • Second permit application: Every person in the group can apply only once this year, so we'll spend our second application (Timea's) on the Stuart Zone for late September. Stuart is a nice lake with some awesome camps - we've been there two years ago, but this time, we want to stay a little higher, at Horseshoe Lake. Horseshoe is a little tarn about two hours from Stuart Lake, at the very bottom of Mount Stuart. It sits in a high alpine bowl and is surrounded by bare rock and larches, which begin to turn gold in late September. This one will be a shorter trip, maybe 2 nights/3 days. Lots of potential for scrambling up there.
  • Potential other applications: For a bigger group, a potential 3rd application could be spent to double our chances at a Core Enchantments permit for August, and a 4th for a trip to the less in demand, but equally beautiful, Eightmile/Caroline Zone (trip story) where we could go scrambling near Windy Pass.

Step 4: Apply for a permit February 15 - March 2

When you're ready to apply, play the lottery by going to Recreation.gov Enchantments Lottery Application (direct link). Deadline is March 2nd.

 

Good luck, and happy hiking!