The largest state park in the Oregon system is probably best known for its collection of waterfalls. Indeed, they are stunning to behold since Silver Falls State Park is called the "crown jewel" of Oregon's state parks. But as might be expected in a 9,000-acre park, there are lots of other things to see and do.
Loggers and a few homesteaders arrived in the late 1880s. In the early 20th century, a local businessman began staging stunts, like pushing cars over the waterfalls and riding down a waterfall in a canoe. Several attempts to form a state park failed, but one finally succeeded in 1935.
After the ocean receded some fifteen million years ago, Columbia River basalt mixed with ocean-floor sandstone, creating the unique place which is Silver Falls State Park. This interaction created walkways behind the waterfalls, which the Civilian Conservation Corps workers expanded in the 1930s. Today, thousands of visitors come to the park each year. Parts of it may look very familiar, because much of the Twilight movie series was filmed here.
Besides the stunning beauty of the many waterfalls, when you venture out to Silver Falls State Park in your RV you'll have plenty of choices for outdoor adventure. You can go hiking, biking, and horseback riding in a truly magical setting. This is park the whole family can enjoy whether you want to play a round of horseshoes or enjoy a quiet picnic. No matter where you go on an Oregon RV road trip, Silver Falls State Park is a must see.
RV Rentals in Silver Falls State Park
Transportation in Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park is located in northern Oregon, a little over an hour south of Portland and 20 miles east of Salem, off of OR-99E and OR-22. You may want to drive slow if you are wandering to the park in a larger RV since some of the roads into the park are narrow and hilly. However, the views of the Oregon forest and countryside is breathtaking. The roads inside the park are relatively level and easy to maneuver.
You shouldn't have any trouble parking your rig since there are several large parking lots located in the park. Ample parking is available in the Day Use Areas, as well as around the Trail of Ten Falls. If you come to Silver Falls State Park, you’ll probably spend pretty much all your time in these areas.
Campgrounds and parking in Silver Falls State Park
Campsites in Silver Falls State Park
Camping at Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park offers camping for tents and RVs in a serene setting, just below the South Falls Day-Use Area. 48 campsites provide electric and water hookups, 18 of which are open year-round. There are also 43 tent sites that are open from May to October, which offer water nearby. These campsites are divided among Loop A and B.
Campsites at Loop A are near the enchanting South Fork Silver Creek and offer restrooms and showers within walking distance. The Loop B campsites are closer to the Nature Trail Loop, with restrooms, showers, and a playground that are centrally located. While there are no sewer hookups, an RV dump station is located at the North Falls Day-Use Area.
Your pet is welcome to stay with you at your campsite. While the length of each campsite varies, RVs and trailers up to 80 feet long can be accommodated. You'll enjoy use of the picnic table and fire ring right at your campsite. Many of the sites are nestled underneath the shade of beautiful Oregon pines. Most of the sites are located on level paved or gravel pads, however, some are suitable for tents only. Reservations can be made from one day up to nine months ahead of time.
North Falls Group Camp
Two group camping areas are available, which can accommodate a total of 50 people in 25 vehicles. These group camping sites are meant for tent camping. RV parking is allowed nearby, but there are no hookups. A dump station is nearby as well. Amenities include flush toilets, picnic areas, and fire pits. These sites are also fully shaded. These group camping areas are conveniently located near the North Falls Day-Use Area within walking distance to the Trail of Ten Falls.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.
If you prefer to stay in a cozy cabins you can choose from 14 cabins nestled along the east bank of South Fork Silver Creek. You can relax in these rustic cabins as each features beds and mattresses for four to six campers. You'll enjoy modern conveniences including heating, electricity, and a table with chairs. If you want to heat up some dinner you can use the fire ring and picnic table located outside. Some of the cabins are even pet-friendly.
Group Overnight Facilities
If you are organizing a camping trip for a large group Camp Silver Creek has forty buildings and cabins that can accommodate up to 250 guests. Camp Silver Creek features a dining hall, recreational hall, shower house, and baseball field. The Old Ranch and New Ranch offer both dormitory-style camping facilities for up to 75 guests. These facilities feature a commercial kitchen with picnic tables. Additionally, the Silver Falls Lodge is a very nice, and very secluded, privately-run group camping facility, which offers a beautiful setting for events and weddings.
Howard Creek Horse Camp
If you are longing to stay at Silver Falls Creek with your horse you can do just that at the Howard Creek Horse Camp. There are five primitive sites available that can hold up to eight people and and four horses. There is also a group site available at the horse camp. Open from May to September, the horse camp is easily accessible to many of the trail heads for convenient horseback riding. While there are no hookups at these sites, there is a pad for tent camping.
Seasonal activities in Silver Falls State Park
Exploring the Waterfalls on the Trail of Ten Falls
Of course, the list needs to start with the amazing Trail of Ten Falls. This seven-mile trail offers jaw-dropping views of the 10 waterfalls in the park. This loop trail begins and ends at the South Falls Day Use Area. One part of the loop trail is rather steep and there are two other sections that have stairs. But other than that, the trail is fairly easy for almost anyone to traverse.
Some of waterfalls are curtain falls while others are more like very large water spouts. Double Falls is the highest one at 178 feet, followed closely by South Falls at 177 feet, and Winter Falls at 134 feet. If your time is limited, there’s a trail cutoff between Winter Falls and Middle North Falls.
There are more than 35 miles of stunningly beautiful hiking trails you can enjoy during your RV visit to Silver Falls State Park. While the Trail of Ten Falls is the most popular, there are many other amazing routes to explore. The Lost Creek Trail is the steepest trail with a peak elevation above 2,400 feet. Much of the trail is double-tracked, as it follows an old logging road. The Catamount Loop Trail is another beautiful trek that will offer panoramic mountain views.
If you want to bust the bike out of the rig and hit the trail you can cycle on the four-mile, mostly paved bike path. While there are no waterfalls on this route, but it does provide easy access to the swimming area and day-use area from the campground. For mountain bikers or those looking for more adventure, you can bike on most of the 35 miles of wooded back country trails that will take you to the majestic waterfalls.
Novice and avid equestrians alike will love the chance to horseback ride on the 35 miles of beautiful back country trails at the park. While you will have to look out for hikers and bikers on the trail, you will be able to enjoy the jaw-dropping views of the waterfalls and woods like no one else from horseback. You will want to keep your guard up for cougars, bears, and other wild animals if you venture into the most remote areas of the park.
Imagine swimming near the awe-inspiring view of a majestic 177-foot waterfall. That dream can become a reality during your RV trip to Silver Falls State Park since you swim close to the South Falls at the Day-Use Area. You can make a day of it and get some food to eat at the concession area or play on the playground nearby.
Enjoying the North Falls Day Use Area
This area is a nice place for an autumn or spring meeting or other event. It’s close to Highway 214, so it’s very accessible. The Meeting Hall comfortably accommodates a hundred people. The building has flush toilets, a commercial kitchen, and a large fireplace. Outside, there’s a large parking area, a very nice natural play area, and some undeveloped trails for intrepid people. Take your RV to the event and stay overnight. You’ll be glad you did.
Hiking with Your Pet
During the off-season you and your furry friend can warm up by taking a hike together. Just make sure your dog is on a leash and you can venture out on almost any of the hiking trails within the park to make lasting memories with your four-legged companion. Keep in mind that pets are not allowed on the Trail of Ten Falls. However, you can let your dog run around and play off the leash at the South Falls Day-Use Area's pet exercise area.
Visiting South Falls Lodge
The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration workers built this cabin in the 1930s. Originally, all the furniture came from just two very large myrtle trees. Some of the original furnishings remain. The lodge is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The surrounding day use area is very nice as well. Amenities include a play area, off-leash dog run, and sheltered picnic areas.
Taking Pictures at the Waterfall Scenic View
One of the best vantage points on the entire Trail of Ten Falls is only about a third of a mile from the North Falls parking area. If your time is limited or the weather is uncooperative, this spot is a good place to get a good view of most of the waterfalls.
Playing at the Playground
If you want your kids to let out some energy you can take them to the Natural Play area at the North Falls Day-Use Area. Designed to fit into the natural landscape, this unique playground features climbable trees and a replica bear den. If you venture down to the South Falls Day-Use Area you can play at the horseshoe pit and another playground. Both areas offer serene settings for a picnic.