Eric Kennedy at Iceland's Jökulsárlón Glacier River Lagoon

Enchantments Lottery Odds Surge on Sunday

There is so much demand to camp in the picturesque Enchantments Alpine Wilderness near Seattle that the odds are bad even by the standards of lotteries. I've entered a few times but never got an overnight permit for the high alpine Core Enchantments Zone. The Core Enchantments are hidden behind Dragontail peak which is highlighted by the setting sun in this photo. The foreground shows the next best zone (Colchuck) but it can be done as a 12 mile day hike.

To improve my odds of getting a permit this year, I wrote code in Python to calculate the odds by date for the past 3 years and identify dates with good odds. See

The Forest Service says there are only advance reservations for 16 people per night in the Core Enchantments Zone with spots for 8 more people released a week at a time on Sundays. (Previously those 8 spots were awarded via a walk-up lottery but that has been suspended since 2020.)

When I analyzed the data, I was surprised to see 24 spots per day awarded via the advance lottery for Sundays. While the extra 8 spots for Monday - Saturday are awarded a week at a time each Sunday, it seems that the Forest Service decided to include the extra 8 spots for Sundays in the advance lottery so the winners of those spots can plan ahead and take vacation days during the following week.

The best odds during the summer is for the Sunday before the 4th of July. In 2022, 499 spots were requested for July 3rd so the odds were 24/499 = 4.8%

Based on last year's data, only dates in October have better than 10% odds for the Core Enchantment Zone.

You can choose three entries in the lottery, but most spots are awarded in the first round so it is best to only request spots for 2 people in the 2nd and 3rd round.

Oddly, some days have hundreds of 1st round applicants but no one wins a spot in the 1st round. Friday Oct 1st 2021 was my first choice in 2021 but none of the 647 people who requested it as their first choice got a spot. (8 spots were awarded in the 2nd round and 8 were awarded in the 3rd round.) There are other popular days where zero spots were awarded in the 1st round. I thought most of the winners in the first round would be in other zones but only 1 permit was awarded in the first round for that date.

While the odds are better on Sunday, even Sunday Sept 25th 2022 had 268 1st round Core Enchantment entries but no one got a spot. 20 spots were awarded in the 2nd round and 4 in the 3rd. It is possible to enter the same date in multiple rounds and it looks like a better strategy for the 2nd and 3rd round than choosing dates with lower odds. Also, even if you want to camp with a group of 4 it is better to request fewer spots in the 2nd or 3rd round since you could miss out on a permit for 2 if you request 4 spots and only 2 remain.

Good luck with your Enchantments Lottery entries!

2022Round 1Round 2Round 3
Sun 10/23/2244100.0%00 00 
Sun 10/16/22203066.7%0360.0%43312.1%
Fri 10/21/2281650.0%080.0%86811.8%
Sun 10/09/22217229.2%0930.0%31142.6%
Tue 10/18/2272528.0%020.0%95715.8%
Wed 10/12/22118512.9%5618.2%01390.0%
Sun 10/02/22202298.7%02560.0%42411.7%
Tue 10/11/224586.9%129612.5%01160.0%
Sun 06/19/22163115.1%01580.0%81485.4%
Sun 06/26/22224325.1%22400.8%01280.0%
Sun 07/03/22244994.8%03060.0%01670.0%
Tue 09/27/22163744.3%03690.0%03820.0%
Wed 06/22/22153624.1%02440.0%01880.0%
Sat 10/15/224974.1%61693.6%61424.2%
Sun 09/18/22153843.9%64371.4%35310.6%
Tue 10/04/2282073.9%23250.6%64061.5%
Wed 06/15/22123303.6%01170.0%41263.2%
Thu 06/16/22154213.6%12860.3%01980.0%
Thu 10/13/2241163.4%01050.0%122754.4%
Sun 09/11/22247103.4%05540.0%06590.0%
Thu 10/06/22154483.3%04300.0%16710.1%
Sun 07/10/22185403.3%03490.0%62232.7%
Wed 09/28/22144233.3%25070.4%06870.0%
Tue 06/21/22103223.1%02140.0%6986.1%
Tue 09/20/22165203.1%06390.0%06490.0%
2021Round 1Round 2Round 3
Wed 10/20/2177100.0%030.0%83522.9%
Sun 10/24/2122100.0%44100.0%1515100.0%
Mon 10/18/2181457.1%0210.0%83522.9%
Sat 10/23/2192536.0%0150.0%62227.3%
Wed 10/13/21165429.6%01370.0%02090.0%
Sun 10/10/2198710.3%4795.1%101486.8%
Sat 10/16/214419.8%64413.6%61504.0%
Sun 10/03/21181959.2%01890.0%61983.0%
Sun 06/20/21242649.1%0810.0%01260.0%
Sun 06/27/21182068.7%61673.6%01320.0%
Thu 10/14/216748.1%4636.3%61783.4%
Tue 06/29/21122265.3%22550.8%21531.3%
Wed 10/06/21152945.1%12860.3%04040.0%
Mon 10/11/2161185.1%81375.8%21461.4%
Sun 10/17/211205.0%113135.5%123237.5%
Sat 10/09/2161234.9%01890.0%103313.0%
Tue 06/15/21122484.8%41812.2%0950.0%
Tue 10/12/214924.3%108511.8%21022.0%
Sun 09/05/21245664.2%05360.0%05050.0%
Wed 06/30/21163784.2%02690.0%02940.0%
Wed 09/29/21113073.6%53761.3%04580.0%
Tue 06/22/21133633.6%21881.1%01280.0%
Sun 09/19/21144103.4%04190.0%104862.1%
Sun 07/11/21205863.4%42911.4%02560.0%
Mon 06/21/21144143.4%02280.0%22061.0%
2020Round 1Round 2Round 3
Wed 10/21/2022100.0%121675.0%21020.0%
Sun 10/25/201212100.0%00 00 
Sun 10/18/201212100.0%4850.0%61060.0%
Tue 10/20/201010100.0%2633.3%41625.0%
Sat 10/24/20121675.0%2633.3%21020.0%
Mon 10/19/2061060.0%66100.0%4850.0%
Thu 10/22/2081650.0%81650.0%0120.0%
Sun 10/11/20143046.7%0360.0%103826.3%
Wed 10/14/2084020.0%2306.7%62623.1%
Sun 10/04/202011617.2%4964.2%01120.0%
Sun 09/27/202316314.1%01080.0%01960.0%
Wed 09/30/201411412.3%02360.0%22061.0%
Fri 10/23/201911.1%42416.7%105020.0%
Tue 09/29/201210811.1%01280.0%42081.9%
Sun 09/20/202422410.7%01720.0%03240.0%
Sun 07/05/20222229.9%21061.9%0880.0%
Mon 10/05/20161649.8%01320.0%01640.0%
Thu 10/15/204449.1%2583.4%106615.2%
Tue 10/06/208928.7%01120.0%81206.7%
Fri 10/16/205618.2%01000.0%111238.9%
Mon 09/28/20111437.7%01640.0%51812.8%
Mon 10/12/203397.7%84418.2%41043.8%
Wed 06/17/20162167.4%01080.0%0560.0%
Sun 06/28/20111596.9%131538.5%01280.0%
Tue 06/30/20162366.8%01400.0%01040.0%

If you're tempted to request a Core Enchantments permit for early June, you will need crampons and an ice axe. The Core Enchantments Zone is behind Dragontail Peak in this photo from a June 8 2008 glacier climb with the Mountaineers.


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