Their is a day use fee of $3 for parking in Silver Falls State park. It is good for 24 hours so you could possible use it for a portion of the next day as well. The ticket if you are caught without a pass is supposedly $45 so it is probably worth paying the fee.
Their is also a Annual and 2 year Annual pass that go for $25 and $40. Inquire at the lodge if you are interested. If you are camping, the receipt will also function as a valid parking pass.
Parking didn't seem to be a huge problem even though i visited during one of the busy periods of the year. Having said that, i'm sure if you arrive late during the busy season you may have to park inconveniently far away especially around the South Falls area.
It is unlikely there is bus service to Silver Falls State Park so you'll need a car to get here. It is located 70 miles and 90 minutes south of Portland and a whopping 110 miles and 2.5 hours from the popular coast. But it is a short 25 mile and 45 minutes if you are driving I-5 in Oregon. Whatever the distance you are looking at, it's well worth making the detour.
The park charges $5 per vehicle to enter the park during the busy summer months and $3 the remainder of the year. This fee is waived if camping so another good reason to do just that. It is a bargain at $16 to tent camp in this amazing forest.
See the Silver Falls Map for a better idea of how the park is laid out. The U shaped black line on the far right side represents the curve where highway 214 curves around the North Falls Parking Area. Winter Falls is at the center of the map where the "you are here" mark is. South Falls (the main activity area of the park, and the location of flush toilet bathrooms) is located in the bottom left side of the map, where the thick black dotted line representing highway 214 goes off the edge of the map. Not shown on the map are the Perimeter Trail, the bike trail, and other facilities and routes not associated with the falls trails.
This tip combines a bunch of smaller tips into one massive mess. This includes parking (which can be a challenge in the peak summer months), paying the parking fees, and various other bits and pieces that have to do with driving to and within Silver Falls State Park.
The Parking Fee
Before you even come to Silver Falls, you need to understand that this is one of the state parks that requires a per-vehicle fee to enter the park. As Oregon's most popular state park, this should be understandable. The fee is $3 for a day use pass. You can also obtain an Oregon State Parks calender year pass for $25, which pays for itself if you plan to visit a number of state parks over a period of time. Fees for camping or staying in a cabin depend on the type of camp site or other facility, and are beyond the scope of what am going to describe here.
No matter where you park within Silver Falls State Park, you must have a valid day use permit displayed in your car. The only exceptions are the overnight camping facilities (which have their own fee structure) and the small view point on Highway 214 for North Falls (where parking is only allowed for 15 minutes maximum).
I am covering this point first because the Winter Falls parking area does not have a self-service fee machine or a pay booth. Therefore, you need to know that you will be required to pay this fee at one of the other parking areas before you arrive. Also, it is helpful if you have $3 in cash available, as the fee machines can give change in $1 coins. This can become quite heavy if, say, all you have is a $20 bill, and therefore receive 17 dollar coins back.
Getting to Silver Falls State Park
Now that you know you need to pay a fee to park in one of Silver Falls parking areas, you need to know where you are going. The access to the park is on highway 214. This highway cuts through the park in a shape roughly looking like a backwards L shape.
From the South: From I-5 take highway 22 south of Salem going east. After about 5 miles there is an interchange with highway 214. Take highway 214 going east to Silver Falls State Park. The park is approximately 15 miles from the interchange. As an alternative, about halfway through Salem you can take highway 213 going east to Silverton, and from Silverton take highway 214 south out of town to Silver Falls.
From the North: If on I-5 follow signs to Silverton, and continue south on highway 214. If on Interstate 205 in the Portland area, take the Park Place exit just north of Oregon City, and take highway 213 south through Mulino and Liberal to Silverton. In Silverton, turn left at the end of the road and follow highway 214 to Silver Falls State Park. It is possible to take Exit 260 "Chemawa Road" north of Salem, and then keep going east on Hazel Green Road all the way to Silverton. However, once in Silverton the way to highway 214 and Silver Falls State Park is much less well marked than from highways 214 or 213.
Once in Silver Falls State Park:
The three main day use parking areas for Silver Falls State Park are North Falls, Winter Falls, and South Falls. All three of these parking areas are on the right side of the road if you are headed south on highway 214 out of Silverton.
The North Falls Parking Area is easy to miss if you are going too fast. As you drive past the group camping area, you will be on a fairly long straight stretch of road. As you come to the next curve in the road, start to slow down, as this parking area is on the right side of the road, with the entrance in the first segment of this curve. This is the place to park if you are going to North Falls or Upper North Falls, or one option if you plan to do an extensive hike through many of the trails of the park. The facilities here include a self-service fee machine, a pit toilet, and a refuse disposal facility.
Winter Falls has almost nothing except several parking places. Obviously, this is the place to park if Winter Falls is the only thing in the park you want to see. There is no fee machine here, so you need to pay at North Falls or South Falls and use the parking permit from there.
South Falls is the main state park facility at Silver Falls, including a store, extensive picnic facilities, the largest parking lot in the park, and several rest room facilities with flush toilets. While off-season you must use a fee machine to get your parking permit, during the peak season the pay booth has an actual worker or workers in it (sometimes there is enough traffic to warrent several lines of cars and several workers collecting the fee here).
The web site below is the official Silver Falls State Parks web site, run by Oregon State Parks.