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Silver Falls State Park Guide — Camping, Trails, and More 

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Silver Falls State Park is often called the crown jewel of the Oregon State Park System because of its captivating beauty and scenery. This park is the biggest state park in all of Oregon, and it offers something for everyone, including hiking trails, opportunities to walk behind show-stopping waterfalls, a fantastic day-use area, and unique accommodations.

How To Get to Silver Falls State Park

Where Is Silver Falls State Park?

Silver Falls State Park is in Marion County, Oregon. The closest major city to the park is Salem, Oregon, which is in the northeastern area of the state, about 23 miles from the park. This park spans over 9,000 acres and features stunning waterfalls, impressive backcountry trails, and a plethora of plants and animals to view in their natural habitat.

Silver Falls State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

This state park is open for day use and year-round camping. The hours vary throughout the year based on the seasons. The day-use areas are open at 8 a.m. most of the year, and closing times range from 5 p.m. in the winter to 8 p.m. in the spring and summer. It”s best to check the park’s website or call ahead to ensure the areas you wish to visit are open during your time there. The park’s administration office is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Nearest Airports to Silver Falls State Park

Several airports serve visitors to the Silver Falls area. From small municipal airports to extensive international facilities, there’s an excellent choice for every traveler.

Portland International Airport

The closest major airport to the park is Portland International Airport (PDX). It’s approximately 57 miles to the park from the airport. With nonstop flights to nearly 75 locations worldwide, it’s a convenient airport to fly into.

Many airlines service this airport, including Air Canada, American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, United, and WestJet. It takes about an hour and a half to get to the park from PDX, but the number of daily flights and airlines make it a more convenient option.

Salem Municipal Airport

The closest airport to Silver Falls State Park is in Salem, Oregon, 23 miles from the park. The Salem Municipal Airport (SLE) is an excellent option for visitors who want to get as close to the park as possible. This much smaller airport offers nonstop commercial flights exclusively from Avelo to Las Vegas (LAS) and Los Angeles (LAX). Once you arrive, arranging a ride-share service or rental car to the park is easy.

Driving to Silver Falls State Park

Driving to Silver Falls State Park is straightforward and simple. From Interstate 5, take exit 253 in Salem and drive 10 miles on Highway 22. The park will be on the left side of the road. Visitors from the north will take the Woodburn exit and follow Highway 214 southeast through Silverton.

Taking the Train to Silver Falls State Park

There is no train service to Silver Falls State Park.

Taking the Bus to Silver Falls State Park

No direct bus service is available to this park, but Greyhound has an option that can get you reasonably close. The closest bus station to Silver Falls State Park is the Greyhound Salem station. It’s about a half-hour drive from this bus station to the park.

Getting Around Silver Falls State Park

Getting Around Silver Falls State Park
Image Credit: Dan Meyers via Unsplash

The best way to get around this state park is to combine driving and walking. Several parking areas around the park allow you to leave your vehicle and explore on foot. The park provides a printable map to help you plan your hikes and adventures.

What To See and Do in Silver Falls State Park

There is so much to see and do at this state park. From hiking to viewing unbelievably tall roaring waterfalls or spending the day at the park playground and picnic area, this park has it all.

Day Use Area

The day-use area is a perfect place for relaxation and fun. This park features picnic shelters, a playground, an area for dogs to run off the leash, and the beautiful Silver Creek. It’s just 177 feet from South Falls and has been used by visitors since 1933.


Anglers are in for a treat when visiting this state park. There are wonderful opportunities to cast out and reel in a big catch. Fishing is permitted in Silver Creek, a small, spring-fed stream available year-round. Wild trout are the most commonly caught fish here, as the nearby hatchery feeds into this area.

Hot Tip:

All fishermen are to be licensed through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and are encouraged to be familiar with the fishing regulations.


Silver Falls State Park Trails
Image Credit: Eric Muhr via Unsplash

Silver Falls State Park offers 35 miles of backcountry wooded trails for hiking, biking, dog walking, and horseback riding. Winding through the park’s lush forests, the trails showcase beautiful wildlife, plants, and waterfalls.

The most popular trail at this park is the Trail of Ten Falls. This trail takes visitors behind the park’s main attractions, 10 different waterfalls. The highlight of this trail is when it leads behind South Falls, the most famous waterfall in the park. This trail is approximately 7 miles long and moderately difficult, with muddy conditions, steep portions, and an 800-foot elevation change.


There are 10 waterfalls scattered throughout the park. The best way to get a view of these is to hike the 7-mile Trail of Ten Falls and stand in their glory along the way. The falls here range in height from 27 feet to 178 feet tall. The highest falls are South Falls, which stands at 177 feet tall, and Double Falls at 178 feet. No matter the size of the cascades, each one will take your breath away. Be sure to pack a camera to capture these tumbling towers of water.

Hot Tip:

The park’s brochure maps out the waterfalls, should you want more information about their locations and grandeur.

Best Times To Visit Silver Falls State Park

No matter what time of year you visit Silver Falls Creek, you can rest assured that you will have a phenomenal experience. However, certain times throughout the year are better than others, especially if you hope to experience a particular event or activity.

Best Time To Visit Silver Falls State Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can significantly impact travel, so planning your visit around typical weather trends is wise. There are 2 months when the weather is ideal for a visit to Silver Falls: July and August. The temperatures range from the upper 40s to the mid-70s, and these are the driest months, with an average of only 2 days of rain.

Best Time To Visit Silver Falls State Park To Avoid the Crowds

A quiet, peaceful trip to explore Silver Falls may be precisely what you’re seeking in a vacation. In that case, the best time to visit this park is in December. This is when the park is least busy throughout the year, providing you with incredible opportunities to explore the park at your own pace without worrying about crowds, traffic, and long lines.

Best Time To Visit Silver Falls State Park for Fall Foliage

Silver Falls State Park for Fall Foliage
Image Credit: Engin Yapici via Unsplash

Fall is a beautiful time to visit Silver Falls State Park. The trees are spectacular once they hit their peak of vivid color. Visitors who want to witness the fall foliage in all its splendor should plan to come in mid-October when the bigleaf and vine maple trees are bursting with rich hues.

Cheapest Time To Visit Silver Falls State Park

Visiting this park from mid to late September is the best way to have an incredible experience and save money. This is when the flights and lodging in nearby towns are at the lowest throughout the year, which means you can potentially save hundreds of dollars in travel expenses.

Annual Events in Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park hosts a variety of events throughout the year. Some of the regular events are guided hikes and owl programs. There are also some annual events that locals and tourists alike look forward to.

First Day Hike

January 1 is a great time to visit the park, especially if you hope to start the new year with a workout. The park hosts the First Day Hike event on New Year’s Day every year. This is a guided 1.5-mile hike on the North Rim Trail. Along the hike, participants learn about the park’s history, geology, and natural resources. Not only will you be rewarded with heart-healthy exercise, but you will also get to take in spectacular views at North Falls.

Silver Falls Winter Festival

Silver Falls Winter Festival
Image Credit: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Each year in December, the park kicks off a celebration of winter with its Winter Festival. Various events take place during this festival, including guided hikes to view animals that hibernate in the winter, plant identification, birdwatching, and waterfall viewing.

Additionally, educational booths are set up throughout the park so visitors can learn about winter animal tracks and what the waterfalls are like in the winter. There are also scavenger hunts and cookie-decorating booths. This event is a perfect way to enjoy the park in its winter glory and start the holiday season off right.

Where To Stay in Silver Falls State Park

Securing accommodations is one of the first steps when planning any vacation. From camping under the stars to a stay in a historic lodge, there’s something to suit every traveler.

Inside the Park

There is a plethora of lodging opportunities inside the park’s boundaries. From campgrounds to cozy cottages and lodges, this park has it all.


This park has a campground that is available year-round. There are 48 sites with water and electricity and 43 tent sites with water available seasonally from May to October. The campground also has 14 cabins that can be reserved year-round. All campers can access flush toilets, showers, and a dump station. These campsites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance.

Smith Creek Village

Smith Creek Village is open to the public year-round. This lodging option is ideal for nature lovers and is set in the lush forest inside the boundaries of Silver Falls State Park. This village features an outdoor inn with cabins, cottages, lodges, and guest ranches.

  • There are 8 cabins in this village, varying in size. Each cabin can hold 2 to 3 guests.
  • The cottages here are duplexes, with 1 room on each side. They can accommodate up to 4 guests, 2 on each side.
  • The lodges are for larger groups. They offer 6 bedrooms and can accommodate up to 12 guests.
  • This village also features 2 ranches. The ranches can accommodate up to 75 overnight guests. This option features an indoor and outdoor fire pit, a commercial kitchen, restrooms, and picnic areas with bunk-style bedrooms.

A big draw to Smith Creek Village being your home base during your visit is an on-site restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner year-round. It is a fantastic option for having coffee while watching the morning begin or finishing a day of adventures with a delicious meal and a refreshing beer.

Towns Near Silver Falls State Park

There are dozens of small towns and larger cities in close proximity to Silver Falls State Park. Whether you seek a quiet retreat in nature or a more lively stay in a bustling city, there is plenty to choose from.

Salem, Oregon

Salem Oregon
Image Credit: Dan Meyers via Unsplash

Salem is 23 miles from Silver Falls State Park. Oregon’s capital city is busier than some of the park’s other surrounding towns. There are countless options for lodging in this city, including downtown inns, vacation rentals, and charming bed and breakfasts. Salem is a dream for foodies, with gourmet bistros, steakhouses, lounges, and cafes. The city boasts numerous museums, gardens, parks, and theaters for recreation and entertainment.

Bottom Line:

Salem has everything a traveler could want in a home base near the park.

Silverton, Oregon

Silverton is a unique town 13 miles from the park. It was named after Silver Creek, a central feature of the park. Silverton is a popular tourist destination with many activities, restaurants, and accommodations. The town offers various lodging options, including historic inns, resorts, and luxury hotels.

The dining options are plenty and feature a significant number of locally owned restaurants, pubs, and cafes. For recreation and activity, the town offers botanical gardens, a variety of parks, museums, and art galleries. For a one-of-a-kind stay near the park, Silverton is the place to stay.

Where To Eat in Silver Falls State Park

There are unbelievable places for a picnic in Silver Falls State Park, but you’re in luck if you seek more traditional dining options. There are 2 exceptional restaurants within the park that are sure to refuel you during your adventures.

Big Leaf Coffeehouse and Grill

Big Leaf Coffeehouse and Grill is within the park at Smith Creek Village. This restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu features a variety of pastries, salads, burgers, and even gluten-free and vegan options. Additionally, the restaurant offers an impressive selection of local wines and beers. Visitors can enjoy a meal with spectacular views of the verdant forests that surround the building.

South Falls Cafe

South Falls Cafe is in the Historic South Falls Lodge. This restaurant serves home-cooked meals made with fresh ingredients and locally sourced beer and wine. Open for late breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day of the week, this is a fantastic option for visitors who need to pause their park adventures to refuel without leaving the premises.

Silver Falls State Park Facts

Silver Falls State Park
Image Credit: Eric Muhr via Unsplash

1. The Park Was Established in 1933

Silver Falls State Park joined the Oregon State Park System when it opened on July 23, 1933.

2. Kalapuya and Molalla Were the Park’s First Inhabitants

The original inhabitants of Silver Falls were the Kalapuya and Molalla, who came to the area approximately 14,000 years ago.

3. South Falls Lodge Was the First Homestead in the Park

The first homestead in this park was established in 1883. This homestead was located next to South Falls and is now the South Falls Lodge, as well as several buildings and the park’s main parking lot.

4. Park Structures Were Built by the CCC

The Civilian Conservation Corps was put to work to develop several of the structures in the park, including rock walls, bridges, and stairways. The CCC remained in the park to work on this project until 1942.

5. June Drake Was the Father of Silver Falls State Park

June Drake was a photographer from the nearby town of Silverton. He conducted a long-running campaign to protect the waterfalls and the area around them in a park-type setting. His efforts paid off in the long run, and Drake is now lovingly known as the “Father of Silver Falls State Park.”

Final Thoughts

With towering cascades, viridescent vegetation, an incredible trail system, and outdoor recreation and adventure opportunities, it’s no wonder over a million visitors come to this park each year. Book your trip to this crown jewel today and discover the breathtaking beauty and endless opportunities for adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Silver Falls State Park?

There is no admission fee for visiting Silver Falls State Park, but there is a $5 daily parking fee. Separate fees are collected for lodging and dining within the park.

How much time should I spend at Silver Falls State Park?

Plan to spend a full day at the park. This will allow you to hike several trails, enjoy the day-use area, and have a picnic or meal at one of the park restaurants.

Is there cell service at Silver Falls State Park?

This park is in a remote area. Cell phone service is available in some parts of the park, but for the most part, service is unreliable.

Are there any dangerous animals I should look out for at Silver Falls State Park?

The most dangerous animals in the park are black bears and cougars. Should you encounter one of these animals, do not approach it and notify the park personnel as soon as possible.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.


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