The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is changing the process for its daily “walk-up permit” lottery for overnight camping in the Enchantments backcountry area.  

People no longer must physically go to the Wenatchee River Ranger Station in Leavenworth but can enter the lottery through an app that simply requires them to be within a mile radius of the station. 

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest spokesperson Deborah Kelly says the process should be more convenient for forest visitors. 

"They could be hanging at a coffee shop or at a hotel or even a campground," said Kelly. "Or if they were at a campground or hiking, they would just have to drive closer in to town." 

There are typically a handful of camping permits available in the daily lottery for the Enchantments, which is conducted Monday through Friday starting in mid-May. 

Kelly says people who are granted a camping permit will then have until 4 pm to go to the ranger station. 

"They get a little educational chat with one of the rangers or forest service folks there at the office, just to be aware of some of the rules there at the Enchantments," Kelly said. "And then they can get their permit and plan to depart the next day." 

The new mobile app process maintains elements of the legacy walk-up system by only allowing those lottery applicants who are physically located within an intentionally set geographic boundary, the ability to participate in the lottery through a location-enabled smartphone or other location-enabled mobile device. 

Kelly said the process is being implemented as a pilot program, which means changes will be made in the next year to improve the system. 

More information on the new daily lottery process will be available in the coming weeks. Check back for updates on the Forest Service Enchantments permit information web page. 

There are two other ways to apply for a camping permit in the Enchantments. 

The highly competitive early lottery takes place in February. This year, more than 40,000 people participated in the early lottery for fewer than 2,600 permits issued. 

Also, beginning on April 1, a limited number of slots are available through online reservations at on the Enchantments Permit Area Page. People will be able to search for available dates and claim any unreserved dates. This is on a first come first served basis. 

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 protect fragile resources and preservation of the wilderness character.

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 some 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. 

Washington State Passes Needed for Recreational Adventures

From the Federal permits needed to the state passes, we have the master list of all the passes you'll need for recreational adventure in Washington State.

Gallery Credit: Aly

More From NewsRadio 560 KPQ