Declared a national monument in 1909 and a national park in 1938, the 1406-sq-mile Olympic National Park shelters a unique rain forest, copious glaciated mountain peaks and a 57-mile strip of Pacific coastal wilderness that was added in 1953. One of North America's last great wilderness areas, most of the park remains relatively untouched by human habitation, with 1000-year-old cedar trees juxtaposed with pristine alpine meadows, clear glacial lakes and a largely roadless interior.
Opportunities for independent exploration in this huge backcountry region abound, be it hiking, fishing, kayaking or skiing. The park's distinct and highly biodiverse ecosystem is rich in plant and animal life, much of it – such as the majestic Roosevelt elk – indigenous to the region. Boasting 17 large, car-accessible campgrounds and 95 backcountry campgrounds, overnight excursions in the park are both easy and rewarding.