Silver Falls State Park in Oregon is one of those magical places that is so beautiful, it sticks in your memory for a long time. We hit this park on our Pop Up Road Trip 2015 and actually booked our stay at Silver Falls at the last minute. It was only meant to be a quick stop on the way to explore the Columbia River Gorge. We were a little late making our reservations, and there wasn’t room for us to book more than a one night stay at the park. We honestly weren’t sure what to expect from Silver Falls, but had we known how much we would love this park, we would have stayed several more nights here.
Silver Falls State Park is nestled in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, less than an hour east of Salem. Called the “crown jewel” of Oregon’s park system, it is the most popular state park–and the largest–in Oregon. There are 45 electrical/water sites available at $26/night and over 40 tent sites available at $19/night. You can reserve in advance online, and you will pay an $8 reservation fee, but I highly recommend it. This campground fills fast!
The campground has warm, clean showers, which are free of charge for campground guests and clean bathrooms with flush toilets. The campground was very busy when we were there, but the bathrooms and showers were always very clean and well maintained. There are no sewer hookups, but there is a dump station, and gray water drains are located throughout the campground. The sites are fairly large, and each one has a fire ring with a grill and a picnic table. We had plenty of shade, so there was no need to set up the awning. There was a paved pad on our site, and it actually was quite level. We still needed to use our BAL Leveler, but this site was one of the more level ones we’ve camped in. It was perfect for the pop up camper.
Within minutes of setting up camp, the kids were ready to go explore the park. There is a trail from the campground to the Silver Falls Lodge, not far from the Trail of Ten Falls. We were all amazed at the dense forest landscape. This place is seriously green and beautiful, and these Arizona kids didn’t know what do to with themselves. I’ve never seen them take so many “non-selfie” pictures. 😛 We found the trail to the famous South Falls and were able to take the path behind the waterfall. How many times do you get to walk behind a waterfall? So cool! The actual Trail of Ten Falls is nearly 9-mile loop, but there are several connecting trails with separate access points to make shorter routes. We met a very nice park ranger named Ranger Ian who helpfully pointed out a short 2-mile hike to Upper and Lower South Falls that would be perfect for a quick afternoon hike.
Did I mention this place is gorgeous? 😉 After our hike, we met Ranger Ian again, who mentioned that the following day was State Parks Day in Oregon. The park would be having a trail run, children’s activities, and free food. We were warned that it would be busy, but a lot of fun, too. Mr. TypeTwoFun is never one to pass up a good trail run, so he got up early the next morning to participate.
The kids and I hung out in the shade of the Silver Falls Lodge while Mr. TypeTwoFun ran the 5K race. The course, coincidentally, happened to be the very same hike we’d taken the day before. Mr. TypeTwoFun said it was the most beautiful trail run he’s ever participated in. There were quite a few people in the park, but the events were well planned and executed, and we never felt crowded. Kudos to the Oregon Parks System! They really have it going on! In fact, Silver Falls State Parks has its own blog. If you are thinking of heading that way, check the blog for upcoming events and activities.
Unfortunately, we had to check out soon after the race, but we will definitely be back. This is one of the most gorgeous campgrounds we’ve ever visited. If you are in Oregon, I highly recommend you check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Helpful Tips for Pop Up Camping in Silver Falls State Park
- There is electric and water at the campground, but no sewer hookups. The campground has a dump station and gray water drains for every couple of sites. Sites fill fast, so make your reservations early!
- The park has well maintained bathrooms with flush toilets and private showers–and showers are free to campground guests. SCORE! 🙂
- We had no specific food storage restrictions, although bears and cougars are known to frequent the area. Just to be safe, we stored all our food in the car.
- Give yourself time to fully explore the park. We only allowed ourselves one day, and it wasn’t nearly enough. Silver Falls State Park is a beautifully maintained park and home to the Trail of Ten Falls, which is not to be missed!
- Our particular site was pretty level, but we still needed our BAL Leveler. Make sure you park on the paved drive only, and bring some sort of leveling system.
- Silver Falls State Park was very busy, and it is definitely a family-friendly campground. There were lots of families with kids–and lots of noise. We did have some noisy neighbors, but it seemed as though everyone tried to observe quiet hours as much as possible. We didn’t mind–Hey! It’s campground camping–but if you’d rather have absolute quiet while camping, definitely avoid the busy summer season.
Have you been to Silver Falls State Park? Or maybe you’re an Oregon native with some tips about the area! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
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