Enchantment Overnight Permit Season Expanded

The Wenatchee River Ranger District is expanding its limited entry, overnight permit season for the Enchantment Permit Area within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in Washington. 

Starting this year, the limited entry overnight permit season for the Enchantment Permit Area will increase by six weeks to help manage increased visitor use and resulting resource damage at this popular destination.  Permits for overnight stays will now be required from May 15 through October 31. 

The option to have a longer permit season was analyzed in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Recreation Use Environmental Analysis in 1993 but had not been fully implemented until now.  Increasing popularity of the Enchantments has led to concentrated and unsustainable overnight use before and after the previously implemented permit season, frequently exceeding daily use levels established to minimize impacts from high recreation use.

Additionally, recent low-snow winters and hot, dry spring and fall seasons have resulted in a longer snow-free period increasing accessibility into the Enchantment Permit Area and lengthening the high-use season.

In the 1976 Alpine Lakes Area Management Act, Congress directed the Forest Service to implement a management plan that would “take into consideration the Enchantments especially fragile beauty, its ease of accessibility, its unusual attractiveness, and its resultant heavy recreational usage”. 

By 1981, the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Plan established carrying capacities for the Enchantments permit area.  To allow this fragile environment to be safeguarded for present and future generations, a permit system for overnight camping was enacted in 1987.

Development of new campsites and social trails can be created in one high-use weekend where a scarcity of durable surfaces or previously impacted sites cause visitors to camp and travel on fragile vegetation.  A key consideration in developing permit quotas is to ensure adequate campsite availability and protection of the wilderness resource from over-use. Increasing the length of the limited entry overnight permit season will ensure protection of the natural resources of the Enchantments for the entirety of the current and projected high-use season.

Reservations are made through Recreation.gov.  Lottery applications for the Enchantment Permit Area will begin February 15 and end March 2. 

More information and how to apply for reservations is on Enchantment Permit page.

For additional information please contact Wenatchee River District Ranger, Jeff Rivera or Wilderness Manager, Gabe Snider at 509-548-2550.