Declared a national monument in 1909 and a national park in 1938, the 1406-sq-mile Olympic National Park shelters one of the world's few temperate rain forests and a 57-mile strip of Pacific coastal wilderness that was added in 1953. The park exists as one of North America's last great wilderness areas. Opportunities for independent exploration abound, with visitors enjoying such diverse activities as hiking, fishing, kayaking and skiing.
Fees are collected year-round at the Hoh and Heart o' the Hills entry points, and from May to October at Elwha, Sol Duc and Staircase entrances. (Payment is not mandatory where there is no entrance station or when an entrance station isn't open.)
Backpackers must register for overnight stays in backcountry areas. There's a $8 permit fee per person per night, valid for two weeks from purchase. Groups are generally limited to 12. You can get permits from the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles, the Hoh visitor center or from ranger stations throughout the park.