Located approximately 25 miles east of Salem, Oregon off Highway 22, Silver Falls State Park is the largest in Oregon. With each site tucked away under the canopy of the temperate rain forest, however, you’d never know it. Silver Falls is easy to get to off I-5, but feels a million miles away from the adjacent farm land and towns.
Silver Falls offers traditional tent and RV camping loops, as well as rustic cabins (similar in amenities to Oregon State Parks’ rustic yurts). Group lodging is available in their conference facilities. We stayed in rustic cabin #10, and highly recommend it for optimal seclusion.
The rustic cabins:
Each cabin in the cabin loop (separated from the tent/RV loop by a covered pedestrian bridge) has plenty of space, but #8, 9, and 10 especially are set apart from the others. In fact, you are required to park about 20-50 yards away (depending upon cabin) and cart your supplies in by provided wheelbarrow (which the kids thought was half the fun).
Each cabin has two basic rooms: a front room with a table and four chairs and a futon that converts to a double bed, and a back room with a built-in bunk-bed and additional double bed. The cabins have electricity and heaters, but no bathrooms or running water. Bathrooms with hot showers are a short walk away (and exclusive for the cabin loop) and running water is within yards of each cabin at outdoor faucets. Cabins also have porches of varying size (the ones right on the loop have larger ones, whereas #8-10 have smaller ones) and fire pits and picnic tables.
No cooking is allowed in the cabins, but BBQs can be set up outside, and we simply used our camping cookstove at the picnic table. You’ll want a cooler with ice for perishables, as there is no mini-fridge. Right behind Cabin #10 is a short woodland trail leading directly to the banks of Silver Creek, which makes for lots of fun exploring for kids while parents are relaxing (or more likely, unpacking).
Tip: Stay on the trails, because poison oak is abundant! If you have young children, be aware that though hidden behind trees and vegetarian, the road leading to South Falls is quite close to the cabins. Adventurous children could wander there.
Things to do in the state park:
In addition to area road biking and fishing, Silver Falls is a hiking mecca. You’ll want to reserve at least a half day, if not a whole day to exploring the Trail of 10 Falls, the trailhead of which is located past the day lodge in the day use parking area. This is a challenging loop of, you guessed it, 10 waterfalls, and these aren’t just minor rapids, either. Four of the ten are large enough that the trail arcs behind them, for hikers to get a behind-the-scenes view, and all are spectacular.
The entire loop is 8.7 miles, but you don’t have to commit to that length. The first waterfall, South Falls, is within yards of the trail entrance, and on a paved walkway. After peeking behind it, hikers will find the Canyon Trail (Trail of 10 Falls) which will take you another 3/4 of a mile or so along the lush canyon floor beside Silver Creek to Lower South Falls, which is also definitely worth seeing. From there, continue on the Canyon Trail another mile to North Falls (and beyond) or look for the Maple Ridge Trail 1/3 of a mile beyond Lower South Falls for a short-cut back to the trailhead (and parking lot). The Maple Ridge Trail starts out with some tough switchbacks, but evens out on the ridge to make an easy jaunt back. (If you go this route, your entire hike is just over 2 miles, and you see two major falls.)
Near the trailhead, there’s ample picnic grounds, as well as a swimming area. The highs were only in the low 70s during our visit, so we didn’t swim, but this section of Silver Creek is deep and still, and there’s a nice grass area surrounding it.
Date last visited:
Distance from the interstate:
25 miles from I-5
Cabin and camping rates:
Cabins are approximately $45/night in peak season. A campsite is as low at $15.
There are a few small towns near Silver Falls, and the lodge at South Falls offers limited cafe hours, but in general, you’ll want to pack your own food in.
From I-5, take Highway 22 east from Salem, Oregon. Follow signs to Silver Falls State Park.