Best things to do at Silver Falls State Park: 2024 Guide

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Silver Falls State Park is Oregon’s best kept secret. This world wonder abounds with natural beauty and is surprisingly easy to reach. Best of all, there’s at least 19 great things to do at Silver Falls State Park.

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
Silver Falls State Park is a place of exceptional beauty and unique experiences.

Is Silver Falls State Park worth visiting?

Silver Falls State Park is an exceptional natural wonder. The park’s famous Trail of Ten Falls boasts beautiful waterfalls set in a dense forested landscape.

@dinkumtribe The Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park is a favorite destination for Oregonians. Here’s just two of the 10 falls! @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #chasingwaterfalls #waterfallhike #waterfallsoftiktok #waterfalltok #oregonlove #silverfallsoregon #bestwaterfalls #hikingwithfriends #hikingwithkids #kidfriendlytravel @traveloregon @travelsalem ♬ Orinoco Flow (Sail Away) [Single Version] – Enya

Waterfall hikes aren’t uncommon in the Pacific Northwest, but these waterfalls are uncommon. Take the famous South Falls for example. How many hikes allow you to stroll behind a 177-foot curtain of water? 

In fact, Silver Falls State Park has four waterfalls that can be seen from all sides. The Trail of Ten Falls literally weaves you through an idyllic forest paradise that has made the park famous.

@dinkumtribe It’s true! @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #chasingwaterfalls #waterfallhike #oregonlove #waterfalltok #bestwaterfalls #beautifulhikes #backsideofwater #behindthewaterfall #behindthewaterfalls #trailoftenwaterfalls ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Oregon’s Crown Jewel

The historic South Falls Lodge stands amid a grove of Pine trees and ferns.
Historic South Falls Lodge

Oregon’s largest state park encloses over 9,000 acres of temperate rainforests and remnants of old growth forests. That means that there’s no lack of things to do at Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park maybe the best place to experience the natural beauty of western Oregon. But there’s a lot more to this park than its famous waterfalls.

My young son stands tall on top of a massive stump at Silver Falls State Park. Hiking is one of the best things to do at Silver Falls State Park.

Ranger-led activities offer a wealth of unique experiences, and comfortable lodging is available in historic park buildings. It’s no wonder that this park is among Oregon’s most popular destinations.

We live near Salem, so Oregon’s crown jewel is only a short drive away. In this guide you’ll discover the 19 best things to do at Silver Falls State Park. You’ll also find the best options for accommodations and dining.

Be sure to check out our know-before-you-go tips and FAQs at the end of this guide. Let’s get started.

Family photo in front of South Fall at Silver Falls. National Park status or not, Silver Falls State Park in Oregon is amazing!
Another great day at Silver Falls State Park.

19 Things to Do at Silver Falls State Park

#1. See the Falls

Silver Creek Cascades over Upper North Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
Beautiful Upper North Falls

Obviously, you don’t want to miss the park’s main attraction. That said, it’s always a challenge to get the most out of your minutes, especially if you’re on a family road trip! Here are some options to consider:

Option A: Hike the Trail of Ten Falls

The famous Trail of Ten Falls guides you through all ten of Silver Creek’s cascades as well as their surrounding forest land before returning you to where you started. The moderate, 7.8-mile trail is a family-friendly hike, especially for older children. 

Boys climbing rocks behind the South Fall at Silver Falls.
The Trail of Ten Falls is a great place for kids to explore.

The loop trail is a great way to enjoy a full-day adventure at Silver Falls. We recommend starting your journey at the South Falls Day Use area. That way, you’ll return from your hike with no lack of options and amenities to greet you.

Option B: Hike the Canyon Trail

Water tumbles off Lower North Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
North Falls is just one of the stunning waterfalls found on the Canyon Trail.

A full day is a big give in our stage of life, so we love option B. The Canyon Trail is a 3.8-mile segment of the Trail of Ten Falls, giving you a full tour of the falls without walking the entire 7.8-mile loop.

@dinkumtribe #dinkumtribe_silverfalls #oregonfamily #oregonfamilyouting #familytravelblog #silverfallsloop #silverfallsoregon #silvertonoregon ♬ Up – Movie Theme – Giampaolo Pasquile

With a little bit of planning, you can get a lot of fun for everyone without the epic hike. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Identify who is feeling adventurous and who wants to chill. In other words, who wants to hike the Canyon Trail?
  2. Drive to the North Falls Parking Area and drop off your all your hikers. Make sure that they have all their stuff because there’s no going back!
  3. The “Chill Team” then drives to the South Falls Day Use area and enjoys the beautiful South Falls, the playground, the gift shop, etc.
  4. The “Adventure Team” hikes the Canyon Trail all the way to the South Falls Day-use area to rendezvous with the “Chill Team”.
  5. Adults drive to a yummy restaurant where they enjoy a well-earned beer (minus the designated driver, of course!).

The Canyon Trail is a great option, especially if you’re traveling with the group with various ages and abilities. Dog cannot use the Canyon Trail. They’ll have to stick with the Chill Team.

Option C: Hike the South Falls

Hiking behind a waterfall is one of the unique experiences available at Silver Falls State Park.
South Falls is a low-commitment hike for most families.

Sometime you only have an hour, and that’s ok. If that’s your situation, we strongly recommend that you spend your time in the South Falls Day-use Area.

A short stroll will bring you and your kids to the majestic South Falls, and a moderate hike will bring you around all sides of this impressive waterfall. 

@dinkumtribe South Falls, #silverfallsstatepark #oregonexplored #dinkumtribe_silverfalls #familytravelblogger ♬ i can’t help it – JVKE

The Day-use area is a great pit stop, allowing you and your family to admire the park’s greatest waterfall, enjoy a picnic, and use the restroom. We added this spot to our GoWhee App because it really is ideal for the whole family. You can find more detail on the park’s facilities and amenities below (#5).

#2. Go Into the Wild

A posted sign alerts hikers that they are entering the backcountry of Silver Falls State Park.

If you’ve visited National Parks, then you know that a park’s famed attraction (Yosemite Valley, Old Faithful) is only a sliver of what can be found in the park itself.

@dinkumtribe Beautiful rainy day hike at Upper North Falls, Silver Falls State Park. #hikingwithkids #hikingwithchildren #saunterslowly #sauntering #1000hoursoutside #beautifulpnw #pnwonderland #oregonbeauty #oregonisthebeststate #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #oregonfamilies #pnwfamilies #pnwfamily #easyhikesgreatviews #easyhiking #easyhikingtrails @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe ♬ Moon – Fernan Birdy

The same holds true for Silver Falls State Park where 35 miles of trails embrace the park’s 9000+ acres of forestland. The Trail of Ten Falls doesn’t account for even a fourth of the park’s overall size. 

Miles of backcountry trails provide a great alternative to the popular and often crowed waterfall trails. Rackett Ridge trail, Perimeter Trail, and the Buck Mountain Loop offer you the opportunity to enjoy remote park areas. 

Beautiful purple wildflowers at Silver Falls SP.
Wildflowers abound at Silver Falls State Park.

Taking the trail less traveled has its rewards. You’ll have a better chance at spotting wildlife and wildflowers in the temperate rainforest and old growth forests found in these parts of the park. In autumn, the trails provide one of Oregon’s best destinations to enjoy the fall colors.

A wildfire burned the southeastern corner of the park in 2020. The fire spared the vast majority of the park.

#3. Saddle Up

A young woman rides on a beautiful horses at an Oregon state park. Horseback riding one of the best things to do at Silver Falls State Park.
Image by Oregon Parks & Recreation Department.

Horseback riding is one of the best things to do at Silver Falls State Park. You can saddle up and explore large sections of the park on seven horse-friendly trails. 

The Howard Creek Horse Camp provides five primitive camp sites with horse stalls and group sites as well. The horse camp is only open from May to October.

Unfortunately, horse rentals and guided rides are not currently available at Silver Falls State Park. You’ll have to BYOH 🐴.

#4. Climb a Tree

Our young son enjoys using specialized gear to climb high up a Douglas Fir. Tree Climbing is one of many great things to do at Silver Falls State Park.
Our children loved climbing trees with Tree Climbing at Silver Falls.

Looking for an authentic Oregon adventure? Tree Climbing at Silver Falls provides guided climbs up the park’s enormous, old growth trees.

Expert climbers train you to safely ascend an old growth giant. Our family took part in a tree climb and we absolutely loved it!

@dinkumtribe Here are some of the benefits of tree climbing adventures for kids and teens: They get to explore the treetops in a safe and controlled environment. They learn how to use ropes, harnesses, and other climbing equipment. They experience the thrill of climbing high in the trees. They learn about different types of trees, how trees grow, and the importance of trees to the environment. They get exercise, have fun, and learn about the natural world. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #treeclimbingadventure #oregonoutdoors #savetreeclimbing #familyadventuretravel ♬ Hard Work – U.S. Drill Sergeant Field Recordings

Our friendly guide walked us through everything we needed to know and helped us put our skills to work on a practice tree. After this, we made our way to a gargantuan, old-growth Douglas Fir.

Tree Climbing is an intense and engaging activity for adults as well as children. The experience gives you a fresh appreciation for Oregon’s pine forests and those who care for them.

Children and teens use specialized gear and ropes to work their way up an enormous tree.
Five of our children work their way up a 300 year old Douglas Fir.

An Uplifting Experience

Our guide showed real patience and care for our children. Our group included five children (ages 8 – 16 ), most whom struggle with ADHD, anxiety, or both.

The guide was positive, supportive, and encouraging throughout the entire process! All of us came away feeling happy and grateful for the remarkable time we’d had together.

Power ascenders move two elderly women up their ropes so that they can enjoy tree climbing.
Power ascenders make tree climbing even more accessible. Photo by Tree Climbing at Silver Falls.

Tree Climbing at Silver Falls even has a power ascender for participants who have limited mobility. This is a business that values people and wants them to thrive.

Want to take your tree climb to the next level? Tree Climbing at Silver Falls offers a variety of climbing experiences including sunset climbs, team-bonding experiences, and kids camps.

A young woman smiles from her hammock. The hammock is hanging way up at the top of a tree.
Camp out in a tree with Silver Falls Tree Climbing. Image by Silver Falls Tree Climbing.

You can even spend a night up in the trees! Reserve a tree camping experience and enjoy Silver Falls in a way that you’ll never forget.

We’d like to thank Tree Climbing at Silver Falls for providing for our full-day, tree climbing experience.

#5. Mountain Bike

A mountain biker speeds along a trail at Silver Falls State Park. Mountain biking is one of the best things to do at Silver Falls State Park.
Image by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Silver Falls State Park is a great place for mountain biking. Twelve different trails challenge you to build your stamina while exploring acres of wild forestland. 

The 4.6 mile Catamount Trail is the park’s best mountain biking trail. This trail was actually built by mountain bikers for mountain bikers.

#6. Take a Swim

Cool waters invite swimmers at the South Fall Day-Use Area swim zone. Swimming is a fun thing to do at Silver Falls State Park.
Image by Oregon Parks & Recreation Department.

Enjoy a nice swim at the South Falls Day-use Area. A large swimming zone is located just southwest of the parking lot, and north of the campground. 

Only two of the park’s waterfalls allow you to reach a waterfall pool: Upper North Falls and Double Falls. The remaining eight falls are not safe for public access.

Silver Falls State Park does not provide lifeguards for any of these areas, so exercise caution.

#7. Go Fish

Silver Creek rushes down a water fall into a beautiful pool. You are allowed to fish from Silver Creek at Silver Falls State Park.
Yes, you can fish in Silver Creek.

Yes, you can cast your line in Oregon’s most scenic creek! The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife requires you to have a fishing license.

Would you rather fish by boat? The Silverton Reservoir and Marine Park allows boat fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.

#8. Join a Ranger-led Event

An informative display about beaver welcomes visitors at Silver Falls State Park.
Interpretive booths and activities are common at Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is holds a variety of programs and events throughout the year. The park also runs a Junior Ranger program throughout the summer season. 

The Owl Prowl is one of Silver Fall’s most popular events. Parents and children five years and older can experience a whole new kind of bird-watching by calling and spotting owls in the dark woods of Western Cascades.

Junior Ranger events usually take place in the campground. You can find Junior Ranger activity books at the park office or the South Fall Lodge. You can also request them from park hosts at the campground.

#9. Find a Treasure

The South Falls Nature Store stands at the South Falls Day-use Area, surrounded by trees and ferns.
The South Falls Nature Shop is a great place to find treasures at Silver Falls State Park.
The South Falls Nature Shop offers a variety of gifts and art for purchase.

Silver Falls State Park may have the nicest gift shop in Oregon’s state park system. The Friends of Silver Falls Nature Store is located in a historic building not far from South Falls.

This lovely gift shop holds an eclectic collection of local art, souvenirs, books, toys, and informative displays. Check out the Friends of Silver Falls website which provides printable activities and learning resources for children and school groups.

#10. Hear the History

Trillium flower, one of Oregon's native plants, can often be seen at Silver Falls State Park
Trillium flower, an indigenous plant in Oregon

Silver Falls State Park has much to say about the story of the Pacific Northwest. The Kalapuya and Molalla nations inhabited this rich region and it’s estimated that they numbered around 15,000 people when Europeans began exploring the Pacific Northwest.

European diseases took an incredible toll of these tribes decreasing their number to around 600 people by the early 1840’s. These survivors were relocated to reservations in 1854.

Silver Falls City & a New State Park

American settlement of Silver Falls began in the late 1800s. The first homesteads appeared in Silver Falls in the late 1883 and a full town just five years later.

This typical western town—Silver Falls City—had over 200 residents in its heyday, but next to nothing remains today.

The Great Depression struck Oregon with ferocity in 1929. The timber industry plummeted and thousands of Oregonians were out of work.

A rustic sign welcomes visitors to the South Falls Historic District, part of Silver Falls State Park.
The CCC developed Silver Falls State Park during the Great Depression.

The Civilian Conservation Corps put young men to work building park infrastructure throughout the United States. New Deal-era facilities built by the CCC include Silver Falls’ South Falls Lodge.  

The state park owes its greatest debt to two men who made it their mission to protect and advocate on its behalf. June Drake was a Silverton photographer who led a tireless campaign to protect the waterfalls and their forested surroundings with a state park.

Mural of June Drake, the Silverton photographer responsible for lobbying to protect Silver Falls.
Mural of June Drake in downtown Silverton

Drake is the father of the father of Silver Falls State Park. One of the park’s famous falls (Drake Falls) bears his name.

@dinkumtribe Silverton’s mural honoring June Drake, the photographer who lobbied to protect Silver Falls and create the State Park. #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #silvertonoregon #muralsoftiktok #muralart #exploreoregon #oregonexplored ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Samuel Boardman was the first superintendent of the Oregon State Parks System. Boardman gave special attention to Silver Falls over the course of his career. Today Boardman is known as the father of Oregon State Parks.

#11. Get Geological

South Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.

Silver Falls State Park is a great place to explore Oregon’s natural history. The park’s stupendous waterfalls and dramatic landscape tell the story of the Western Cascades, the oldest part of Oregon’s Cascade mountains.

Silver Creek tumbles its way down three geologic layers found in Silver Falls State Park. The nature and history of these formations explain how the Trail of Ten Falls became what it is today.

Roadside Geology of Oregon and In Search of Ancient Oregon are two excellent resources for studying Oregon’s Geological history (these are Amazon affiliate links). Both of these books provide the backstory behind geological wonders such as Silver Falls, the Columbia River Gorge, Smith Rock, and the Painted Hills.

#12. Sit Back and Relax

The historic South Falls Lodge stands ready to welcome visitors at Silver Falls State Park.
This Historic South Falls Lodge offers public Wi-Fi.

We don’t typically wow at campgrounds, but it would be a disservice to pass by the wide range of facilities at Silver Falls State Park. Honestly, I don’t know many state parks that offers what can be found here:

  • 1 Historic Lodge & Conference Center (with free WiFi)
  • 14 Cabins (7 of which are pet friendly)
  • 48+ electrical sites with water (18+ of these are open year round)
  • 5 Individual horse campgrounds
  • 1 group horse campground built for 24 people and 12 horses
  • Dormitory Style Bunkhouses (each Ranch sleeps 75 people!)
  • 1 Historic Youth Camp with capacity for 250 campers.
@dinkumtribe The check in process was super easy, and our arrival mid week was quiet. Super excited to enjoy this getaway at Smith Creek Village. ##Hosted##SilverFallsStatePark##OregonStatePark##QuietGetAway##InTheForest##FamilyGetAway##SmithCreekVILLAGE##adhdfamilytravel##familytravelcreator##oregonfamily##pnwfamily##pnwfamilies##oregonfamilies##familytravelvlog##familytravelblog##familytravelinfluencer##travelwithkids ♬ Kal Ho Naa Ho – JUL MARUF

Smith Creek Village

The park’s premier lodging can be found at Smith Creek Village. This lodge and conference center features stylish accommodations amid the natural beauty of Silver Falls State Park. 

@dinkumtribe Smith Creek Village is a beautiful place to stay right in the heart of Silver Falls State Park. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #hosted #smithcreekvillage #silverfallsoregon #willamettevalleyoregon #pacificnorthwest #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #kidfriendlyhotels #dogfriendlytravel #travelwithkids ♬ Theme from “Twilight (Bella’s Lullaby)” – Movie Sounds Unlimited

Our family of eight enjoyed a two-night stay at Smith Creek Village. We found it to be a great way to experience the Silver Falls area.

South Falls Day-use Area

A playground and picnic areas welcome families to the South Falls Day-use area at Silver Falls State Park.
Both of the North Falls and South Falls Day-use Areas feature playgrounds.

Silver Falls State Park has two day-use areas that feature picnic areas, playgrounds, and restroom.

The South Falls Day-use area not only features large parking lots and spacious lawns, but also an eatery, gift shop, and off-leash area for dogs. All of these facilities are an easy stroll away from views of the famous South Falls.

A picnic pavilion welcomes groups at the South Falls Day-use Area at Silver Falls State Park
The South Falls Day-use Area is a well designed, family-friendly venue.

#13. Give Back

Volunteer events offer a hands-on way to get involved. Events such like Cesar Chavez Day of Service and the park’s Native Plant Care Event give visitors the opportunity to invest their time and energy into this valuable park. You can reserve your spot at one of these event on the Oregon State Park’s events page.

Image by Oregon Parks & Recreation Dept.

You can also partner with the Friends of Silver Falls, a non-profit that actively supports the park and its programs. The Friends of Silver Falls welcomes new members, volunteers, and donations. 

#14. Explore Silverton

Downtown Silverton mural.
One of dozens of murals throughout downtown Silverton.

It seems fitting that Oregon’s best loved state park is located next to one of the state’s best loved towns.

Oregonians love Silverton, and not just because it leads to one of their favorite parks. Silverton has an old-town charm and a new town vibe. At 10,000 people it’s small enough to be fun but big enough to be easy. 

Family walking in the Oregon Garden in Silverton.
The Oregon Garden is beautiful year-round, and minutes away from Silver Falls State Park.

Silverton is home to the fabulous Oregon Garden, and Silverton’s historic downtown boasts a selection of great restaurants such as the Noble Fox, Magnolia Grill, Silver Falls Alehouse, and Akatsuki.

What’s more, Silverton is surrounded by towns such as Marquam and Mt. Angel, beautiful places with their own treasures.

@dinkumtribe I’ve never seen a prettier roll than this one! Love the hearts! #sweetheartrolldinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #sweetheartroll #caterpillarroll #sushirestaurant #sushirolls #sushirolls🍣 #datenightideas #restaurantdatenight #restaurantdate🤍 #happilymarried #happilymarriedlife #dateyourspouse ♬ cooking video – cooking

Finally, Silverton is ideally placed in the foothills of the Cascade mountains. Its location puts the Willamette Valley and the Cascade Mountains in easy reach.

In other words, you can start your day hiking Silver Falls and end your day visiting Oregon’s Capital in Salem.

@dinkumtribe Free things to do with kids in Salem Oregon. #oregonexplored #pnwadventures #visitsalem #kidstiktok ♬ MI CHIQUITA – Alexander McCabe

You can spend a morning hiking pristine forest and close an afternoon with winetasting, without even leaving the Silver Falls area.

#15. Stop and Smell the Tulips

A boy rides a small John Deere tractor at the Wooden Shoe Tulip festival near Silver Falls State Park.

One of America’s biggest tulip festivals is only a short drive from Silver Falls State Park. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival celebrates Spring with an astounding display of beauty and color.

The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is a fantastic attraction with a wide range of things to admire, taste, and experience. The festival usually run from late March through April, but be sure to check their website for updated information.

@dinkumtribe Get all your springtime, garden and Dutch wooden shoe decor here! #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #tulipfest #tulipfestival #tulipfarm ♬ Creative – Smile

#16. Visit Mt. Angel

Majestic Mount Angel Abbey stands tall. Mount Angel is a great town near Silver Falls State Park.

Mt. Angel is an equally famous Silver Falls destination. This town takes its names from the Benedictine Monastery that crowns it. 

Mt. Angel is renowned for its Oktoberfest, held every fall since 1966. The town has less than 3500 people, but it host the largest folk festival in the entire Pacific Northwest.

@dinkumtribe Mt. Angel Christkindl Market was rainy, cold and perfectly festive! @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #christmasmarket #christmasmarkets #christmastreelighting #bavarianfood #christmasinoregon #christmasinthepnw #pnwchristmas #oregonchristmas #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ A Holly Jolly Christmas – Christmas Music

Mt. Angel celebrates its German heritage with events and festivals that are held throughout the year. Their February Volksfest is a sausage extravaganza complete with polka bands and local dancers. 

The Christkindlmarkt is one of my favorite Holiday celebrations. This German-themed Hazelnut festival includes a Christmas market. You shop for unique gifts made by local artists and enjoy craft beer and wine. 

@dinkumtribe Mt. Angel Abbey is a beautiful quiet retreat destination about 30 minutes from Salem, Oregon. #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #oregontravel #oregontravelideas #oregontravels #salemismopo #traveloregon ♬ Inspiring orchestra and choir music – Jun Naotsuka

Mt. Angel Abbey is also worth visiting. The monastery grounds are beautiful and serene; an excellent place for quiet contemplation. The Abbey also holds its own library, museum, and even a monastic brewery!

#17. Enjoy a Drink

A woman enjoys a tall beer at the Noble Fox in Silverton. Brewpubs are one of the many things to do at Silver Falls State Park.

The Silver Falls area is a great place to enjoy locally-made beer and wine. Winegrapes, grain, and hops are all grow well in the Willamette Valley.

@dinkumtribe Fun brewery for date night. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #datenightidea #oregondateideas #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #oregonbrewery #oregonbeers #oregonbeer ♬ Admirer of Things – Bradley Thomas Turner

You can enjoy excellent craft beer at Silver Falls Alehouse in Silverton. This microbrewery provides delicious food and and remarkable brews.

Mt. Angel Abbey hold one of Oregon’s most unique breweries. The monks continue the centuries’ old tradition of monastic brewing. You can benefit from their expertise at the Benedictine Brewery.

@dinkumtribe Shades of Brew is in Hayesville, Oregon (just outside of Salem). They offer dozens of local brews in a family friendly environment. @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #brewpub #brewpubs #salemismopo #oregoncraftbeer #craftbeertok #craftbrewery #craftbeergeek #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ Good Day – Nappy Roots

In fact, the Silver Falls and Salem area has dozens of craft breweries and brewpubs. We enjoy several family-friendly breweries in this area.

#18. Uncover Old Oregon

Image by Oregon Parks & Recreation Dept.

The Silver Falls area is rich in Oregon history. French fur trappers built Oregon’s first farms and settlements in French Prairie, and Oregon’s first government was established in nearby Champoeg and Aurora.

@dinkumtribe Champoeg State Park has many beautiful walking trails and a pavilion available to rent for events. It’s the perfect place to spend a summer day. #summermashup #summertime #18summerswithyourkids #18summersmakethemcount #summerwithkids #beautifulaugust #augustdays #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ august – Taylor Swift

You can explore this rich history at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Champoeg State Park, Old Mission State Park, and Willamette Heritage Center. Oregon’s State Capitol, Salem, is another great place for exploring the heritage and culture of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

@dinkumtribe Exploring parts of the Oregon Trail and Barlow Trail near Rhododendron, Oregon. #oregontrail #barlowtrail #oregonhistory #oregonhistorydiscovered #wagontrail #pioneerhillclimb #coveredwagonlife #oregontravel #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe ♬ Outdoors – Colin Tierney

#19. Discover More Waterfalls!

Families play along Scott's Mills Falls near Silver Falls State Park. Visiting nearby waterfalls is one of many things to do at Silver Falls State Park.
Summer Fun at Scott’s Mills Falls

Oregon has no lack of waterfalls, but the Silver Falls area has two waterfalls that are well worth your time.

Scott’s Mills Falls is a large waterfall and swimming hole that’s not far from Silver Falls State Park. The waterfall is located next to the small town of Scott’s Mills. 

Water pours down majestic Abiqua Falls near Silver Falls State Park.
Abiqua Falls. Image by Thomas Shahan.

Scott’s Mill Falls holds a large swimming hole at the base of the waterfall. Locals enjoy jumping into the swimming hole from the basalt columns surrounding the falls. 

There is no lifeguard on duty at Scott’s Mill Falls. We strongly suggest that you exercise caution and provide life-preservers to any children who are not strong swimmers.

Abiqua Falls is one of Oregon’s best known falls. This noble waterfall is about 40 minutes from Silverton and an hour from Silver Falls State Park. 

Know Before You Go

Book Lodging in Advance

Silver Falls and Silverton are very popular and accommodations are limited. You’d be wise to reserve your campsite, cabin, or room several months ahead of your planned stay.

A family enjoys time together with their dog at Upper North Falls in Silver Falls State Park.
Upper North Falls is a pet-friendly waterfall.

Bring Your Pet

Silver Falls is a pet-friendly park. So dogs are welcome throughout most of the park as long as they are on a leash that doesn’t exceed six feet in length. The Upper North Falls is a pet-friendly waterfall, where owners can let their leashed pets have at it!

Finally, the South Falls Day-use Area has a spacious off leash zone where your pooch can roam free.

@dinkumtribe #waterfallwednesday #familytravelblogger #silverfallsstatepark #dinkumtribe_silverfalls ♬ What A Wonderful World – Re-Recorded – Louis Armstrong

Consider Off-Season

As, we said before, this state park is extremely popular. Not a few out-of-towners roll through here. Moreover, Oregonians are serious outdoor enthusiasts, hitting the trail anytime they can.

Thankfully, western Oregon has a temperate climate that keeps weather mild in the spring and fall months. You may have some rain, but you’ll be experiencing the Trail of Ten Falls rather than the Trial of Ten Falls.

@dinkumtribe #1000hoursoutside #hikingwithkids #dinkumtribe_silverfalls #familytravelblogger #waterfallhike #oregonexplored ♬ Break My Stride – Chateau Pop

Bring Boots and a Good Coat

Kids rain boots.
Galoshes will do just fine for kids.

Western Oregon isn’t just wet, it’s I-didn’t-know-that-it-could-rain-this-much wet. While the rainy season usually ends in May, we’ve seen years where it stretches into June and even July.

Cotton clothing offers poor protection in a cold wet climate. A pair of solid boots and some waterproof gear can be the difference between enjoying a hike and enduring a hike. 

@dinkumtribe Upper North Falls is a short hike that you can take with kids and even the dog! In the summer, it’s a great place to swim too.@dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe #chasingwaterfalls #waterfallhike #waterfallsoftiktok #oregonwaterfalls #oregonhiking #hikingwithkids #easyhikes #easyhiking #hikingwithdogs ♬ Moments / Tides – Goth Babe

Get Your Adulting On

A sign says "Danger, Do not go beyond this point" and shows a person falling off a cliff. Someone placed a suspicious looking person sticker at the base of the cliff making the symbol look kind of silly.
Don’t fall off the cliff . . . because there are criminals at the bottom?

The Canyon Trail features high cliffs and steep drops. Bears, cougars, and coyotes live in the western Cascades. Stay with your children and be prepared. 

Oregon waterfalls can be incredibly powerful. Exercise caution both for yourself and your children when walking near a waterfall or swimming in a swimming hole. 

@dinkumtribe Something about water moving is so restful. #waterfalls #oregonexplored #pnwonderland ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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

Silver Falls State Park has a $5.00 parking fee per vehicle. There is no entrance fee.

What time of year is best to visit Silver Falls State Park?

Spring is the best time to visit Silver Falls State Park. For one, the rainy season and snowmelt ensures that the waterfalls are at their best. Second, the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Finally, you will find less crowds than the summer months.

How many waterfalls are at Silver Falls State Park?

The Trail of Ten Falls has— you guessed it! — ten waterfalls in an 8-mile roundtrip hike. Additionally, as with many rainforest areas in Oregon, you can find smaller cascades of water along most of the trails during the rainy season.

@dinkumtribe #waterfalls #pnwexplored #familytravelblogger #travelwithkids #dinkumtribe_silverfalls #silverfallsstatepark ♬ Forever – Labrinth

Do I need a reservation for Silver Falls State Park?

No. Parking is first come, first served in the main lots and the fee is $5. If you plan to stay overnight in the park, the lodging and campgrounds require a reservation.

Is Silver Falls State Park paved? 

The parking lot and walking areas between facilities are paved. The trails are not paved.

Boys play around a sign at the South Falls Day-use area at Silver Falls State Park.
The South Falls Day-use area have several paved walkways.

Do you need to book in advance to visit Silver Falls State Park?

Standard day pass visitors do not need to book in advance. Special programs require reservations, and if you’re staying overnight in the park, you will need to make reservations.

How much are Silver Falls fees?

  • Day-use Parking Permit: $5.00 / day

Lodging fees change seasonally. The numbers listed below are from March. These prices increase as peak season approaches.

  • RV Lot: $28+ / day
  • Tent Site: $19+ / day 
  • Cabin: $58+ / day
  • Picnic Shelter: $50
  • Horse Site: $19+ / day
  • Horse Group Site $58 / day
  • Meeting Hall: $200+ / day
  • Group Tent Site: $71+ / day
@dinkumtribe Smith Creek Village is the premier lodging choice of Silver Falls State Park. Heated cabins, cottages and lodges offer the comforts of home amid the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. #hosted #smithcreekvillage #silverfallsoregon #willamettevalleyoregon #pacificnorthwest #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids #kidfriendlyhotels #dogfriendlytravel ♬ Monsters, Inc – Gustav Lundgren & Unit

Are dogs allowed at Silver Falls State Park?

Yes. Silver Falls State Park is a dog friendly location. Dogs are permitted on most park trails, including the Upper North Falls Trail. 

The park includes pet-friendly cabins and lodges. The South Falls Day-use area also has a leash-free area for dogs.

How many miles is the Silver Falls hike?

Silver Falls State Park has several different trails. The most famous trail is the Trail of Ten Falls. This trail is 7.8 miles round trip.

A flight of stairs awaits hikers on the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
Be prepared to hike some staircases on the Canyon Trail.

How long does it take to hike the Trail of Ten Falls?

I would recommend setting aside at least half a day to hike the Trail of Ten Falls, especially if you have children.  The hike will likely take around four hours, but you’ll want plenty of time to admire the waterfalls and take pictures.

Is the Trail of Ten Falls paved?

Most of the Trail of Ten Falls is unpaved. There a some sections of the trail that are paved for safety.

The wet, graveled Trail of Ten Falls works its way behind Lower South Falls at Silver Falls State Park.
Typical trail conditions along the Trail of Ten Falls.

Is the Trail of Ten Falls hard?

The Trail of Ten Falls is a moderate hike. A person in average physical health can hike it with little difficulty. Keep in mind the following:

  • The trail includes segments where you will need to duck under overhanging rock (South Falls).
  • The trail has a number of stairs that you will need to ascend and descend.
  • The trail is wet or icy for much of the year. Be sure to bring proper footwear. 
@dinkumtribe 80+ steps to go down and walk under the North Falls, then back up! #stairmaster #waterfallhike #dinkumtribe_silverfalls #oregonexplored ♬ Che La Luna – Louis Prima with Sam Butera & The Witnesses

Are dogs allowed on the Trail of Ten Falls?

The short answer is no. The Canyon Trail is the segment of the Trail of Ten Falls that brings you along nine of the ten waterfalls. This trail doesn’t allow dogs for safety reasons.

However, there are two segments of the Trail of Ten Falls that do welcome dogs: the trail to Upper North Falls and the Rim Trail.

Image shows a path next to a sheer drop into the canyon.
The Canyon Trail doesn’t have a lot of room for dog trouble.

Can you swim at the Trail of Ten Falls?

Not really. The Trail of Ten Falls follows Silver Creek as it rushes through a narrow, rugged canyon. Swimming is not safe in these conditions. 

Upper North Falls and Double Falls do allow public access to the waterfalls, but the remaining falls can only be viewed from the trail.

A safe swimming area can be found at the South Falls Day-use Area.

What to wear at Silver Falls State Park?

Synthetic, water resistant clothing and a good pair of boots are usually your best choice. Western Oregon is extremely wet.

Why is Silverton famous?

Silverton is known for two special attractions: Silver Falls State Park and the Oregon Gardens. Silverton is also the home of the Gordon House by Frank Lloyd Wright.

@dinkumtribe Playing in the hobbit house at the Oregon Garden. The Children’s Garden is one of several themed sections. #familytravelblogger #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #familytravelblog #familytravelinfluencer #familytravelvlog #silvertonoregon #silvertonor #oregonmoms #oregonfamilyouting #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #pnwadventuretime #adhdfamilytravel #childrensgarden ♬ Concerning Hobbits – Howard Shore

Is Silverton worth visiting?

Yes. Silverton one of the best stops off the Interstate 5. The town is only a half an hour from the interstate but feels worlds away from the big city. 

Silverton offers a lot in the way of fun and interest. Silver Falls State Park, the Oregon Garden, and the Gordon House are in or near Silverton.

@dinkumtribe Silverton’s Historical Society offers a free walking tour of the dozens of murals around town, but you can also do the self-guided tour. #silvertonoregon #localhistory #localhistorytour #artwalk #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe @dinkumtribe ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

Silverton’s historic downtown is offers excellent restaurants, art galleries, historic sites, and cultural events. Colorful, interesting murals decorate the entire town. 

What river runs through Silverton, Oregon?

Silver Creek, the same river that runs through Silver Falls State Park.

Silver Creek flows below the open-air balcony of The Noble Fox near Silver Falls State Park.
Silver Creek from The Noble Fox in Silverton.

What is the origin of Silverton?

The land that is now Silverton was an important location to the Kalapuya and Mollala Nations. These indigenous tribes used controlled burns to cultivate an oak savannah for camas cultivation. 

A prominent oak, known as the Old Oak, was an important stopping point on a native american trail that run along the western slope of the Cascades (now Highway 213). The large tree was a well-known meeting place for indigenous peoples.

What is now Silverton grew out of a land claim obtained by Thomas Coon in 1851. His wife Polly Coon had the land platted by Timothy Davenport, with the Old Oak as the center point of the town. 

In spite of its name, Silverton doesn’t have any connection with mining or mineral wealth. Entrepreneurs took an interest in the town due its important location and the power that could be obtained by Silver Creek.

Lumberjacks rest on a locomotive in a historic photo from Silverton's past.
Lumber has long been a key industry in Silverton.

The narrow-gauge Oregonian Railroad reached Silverton in 1880 and the town quickly grew into an important economic hub of the Northeast Willamette Valley.

What towns are around Silverton?

  • Mt. Angel: Town of a little over 3500 people. Mt. Angel takes its name from Mt. Angel Abbey, a benedictine monastery that stands on the hill above the town. This town celebrates its German heritage with a huge Oktoberfest and other seasonal festivals.
@dinkumtribe I’ve never seen such a cool coatrack! Mirror and umbrella stand and coat hanger all in one! #woodcarvingart #beautifulwoodwork #beautifulwoodworking #wowthatwasreallycool #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ Hedwig’s Theme – John Williams
  • Scotts Mills: Scotts Mills is a rural community to the north east of Silverton. The place is best known for Scott’s Mills Falls and Abiqua Falls. Scotts Mills is a small, quiet area that sits at the feet of the West Cascades.
  • Marquam & Monitor: These unincorporated communities are as small-town as it gets here. Both of these hamlets have their own charm. Be sure to eat at the historic Markum Inn, one of Oregon oldest restaurants.
  • Aurora: Oregon’s first capitol is a small town of around 1300 people. Aurora is a quiet place with plenty of historical interest and natural beauty.

How long does it take to go through the Oregon Garden?

You could see most of the Oregon Gardens in a two hour period. To truly savor your experience add an additional hour or two so that you don’t feel rushed.

@dinkumtribe Get outside and chill in a garden whenever possible.@dinkumtribe #adhdfamilytravel #familytravelcreator #familytraveltiktoker #oregonfamily #pnwfamily #pnwfamilies #oregonfamilies #familytravelvlog #familytravelblog #familytravelblogger #familytravelvlogger #familytravelinfluencer #travelwithkids ♬ original sound – DinkumTribe ADHD family travel

How much does it cost to get into the Oregon Garden?

As of March 9, 2023, admission to the Oregon Garden is as follows:

  • Adult $8.00
  • Senior (60+) $6.00
  • Student (12-17) $5.00
  • Children (5-11) $2.00
  • Children (4 & under) Free

Can you picnic at the Oregon Garden?

Yes, picnicking is allowed. The Gardens do ask that you be courteous and clean up after yourself. 

Oregon Gardens does hold public events that may prohibit outside food. Be sure to check their events page concerning picnicking at special events.

@dinkumtribe #oregongarden #silvertonoregon #oregonexplored #dinkumtribe #EasyWithAdobeExpress ♬ Good Day – Nappy Roots

Are dogs allowed at the Oregon Garden?

Leashed pets of all kinds are welcome throughout the garden. You are expected to clean up after your pet.

What is the history of the Gordon House?

Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Gordon House for Evelyn and Ed Gordon in 1957. The home was originally located near Wilsonville, Oregon in a location that provided views of the Willamette River and Mt. Hood.

Wright did not live to see the completion of the Gordon House. He died in 1959 and the house was completed in 1964.

In 2001 the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy partnered with the Oregon Garden Society and the City of Silverton to preserve the Gordon House. The house was dismantled, moved 21 miles, and reassembled at its present location. 

The Gordon House is listed on the National Register of Historic places. It is the only Frank Lloyd Wright home in the Pacific Northwest that is open to the public.

What kind of fish are in Silverton Reservoir Oregon?

Silverton Reservoir is stocked with hatchery-sourced rainbow trout. Largemouth bass and catfish can also be caught at the reservoir.

© Copyright Brian A. Warren 2022-2023. First published: March 22, 2022. Last updated: March 29, 2023.

Pinnable collage for Silver Falls State Park
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Pinnable collage for Silver Falls State Park
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About the author

Brian Warren is a native of California and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and several other countries. He's husband to Jennifer, Dad of six children, and taught middle school history for several years. His special interests include craft beers, the American Old West, and geology. Brian is also an online marketing specialist and cofounder of Dinkum Tribe, a website dedicated to healthy, happy families. Feel free to send Brian a message at [email protected].

Comments

  1. Such an excellent park! I’ll have to add it to my wish list of places in Oregon (in the low season, of course!).

    And an excellent article. I am so glad to see there are so many miles of trails– and camping! Thank you.

  2. The fact that you can walk behind the waterfall reminds me of Iceland – stunning. It looks like a beautiful park to visit – thanks for the tips!

    1. Silver Falls State Park is gorgeous – there’s still more we haven’t explored yet!

  3. Love waterfalls – many of them remind me of British Columbia. I sent your post to a friend who is a waterfall chaser 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing – hope your friend gets to visit sometime, there are over 300 waterfalls in Oregon!

  4. What a beautiful waterfall! I also loved all the flowers you saw, especially the pink foxglove. So beautiful! Thanks for sharing this gorgeous spot! 🙂

    1. When we moved to Oregon from California, I was surprised to find that foxglove grows wild here!

    1. Yes it really is! We were here yesterday and the Upper North falls were overflowing with water – even the trail sides were dripping down water from a previous day’s rain! Silver Falls State Park is a family favorite for us.

  5. I didn’t realize that cotton was not the way to go for these hikes. Good to know! Thanks for an interesting read!

    1. We passed several families who were wearing waterproof jackets on the path – a smart idea to avoid getting drenched from the spray and dripping rocks!

  6. What a breathtaking place offering the best of nature. It is so amazing that you can hike up to get close to the pristine waterful.

  7. I love waterfalls so this looks like a great park to visit! Happy to read the campground is worth checking out too.

  8. These waterfalls are gorgeous… also a love of mine hiking and waterfalls…I hope one day we get to see these…stunning thank you for sharing

    1. Oregon has over 300 waterfalls, but the ones at Silver Falls State Park are among the prettiest for sure!

  9. Oh my goodness the trail of 10 falls is literally my dream travel destination with our camper van. I will have to save this post for later.

  10. I’ve never been here! It sounds like a great place to visit with the family. Thanks for the great suggestions of things to do!

  11. I’ve necessary heard of this park yet. Thank you for letting firming me of this gem. I’ll definitely try to visit next time in Oregon.

    1. The Pacific Northwest is full of natural treasures, I hope you get to see them in person one day!

  12. As an avid hiker, there is nothing more soothing to me than the sound of water falling from a height! I can spend hours in the proximity of a waterfall and meditate. You are lucky to live in a massive country with such amazing diversity! I’ve never been to the West coast, but I bet it is fabulous. You got the ocean, you got the mountains, you got it all! Enjoy your trips!

  13. This is so beautiful! Oregon is on my bucket list because of the beauty of its outdoors and seeing this really gave me more than one reason to want to go!

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