Getting a permit to stay in one of Washington's most coveted backpacking areas will require more luck this year.
It used to be that people had to have a permit to camp overnight during the late spring to early fall months.
But there was a sweet spot in late spring, when snow melted and when permits weren’t needed. Campers didn’t need permits then.
That has changed. The U.S. Forest Service has decided to require overnight permits for six more weeks, because it noticed bigger crowds in recent years. Low-snow winters were drawing more campers in late spring.
The agency said that higher traffic led to resource damage.
Permits are handed out through a lottery. Twenty-eight camping parties can be in the entire Enchantments area every night.
Overnight permits will be required May 15 to Oct. 31.
Kindra Ramos with the Washington Trails Association says it was a necessary move.
"We are just seeing the popularity of this special place grow,” Ramos said. “The permit system is really a way of ensuring the fragile beauty of the Enchantments, the beautiful, alpine, crystal lakes will continue to be around."
Lottery applications open on Feb. 15.
(But, hot tip for those who don’t get a lottery ticket: If you show up the day you want to camp, the U.S. Service keeps some permits on hand to give out the day of. )