Oregon's most popular state park is not located on the Oregon Coast or in the Columbia River Gorge, but in fact it is located just outside Silverton. This is Silver Falls State Park, for which there is an entire VirtualTourist travel guide already, written by several other people.
It is a great park due to it having a number of waterfalls cascading into deep canyons. A seven mile (12 km) trail loop provides views of most of these falls. Other trails provide access to a number of other areas inside the park. Camping is available (there is both group camping area and a standard camping area), as is a retreat center. There is a swimming hole, picnic facilities, and various other features you would expect in a good state park.
Many of the falls are a bit small, while others don't have huge water flows over them (the water flow depends vastly on the time of year - with spring giving the most water due to snow melt and rain combined). However, they are taller than they might first appear in the photos. For example, in the photo seen here note the people standing on the trail behind the falls - they only appear as tiny white specks where someone is wearing a white shirt or similar clothes.
The park is located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, but the forests are mostly fairly small trees due to the rocky soil and parts of the park (but not all) having been logged in the past.
For more information about the park, please see:
The VirtualTourist Travel Guide for Silver Falls State Park
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My Silver Falls State Park Page
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The Oregon State Parks Silver Falls State Park page (web site is below)
While it may appear to be inspired by Homer Simpson, the annual Homer Davenport Days festival is a celebration of a much earlier character.
Homer Davenport was born in Silverton in 1867, and became a well known political cartoonist and humorist throughout the 1890s and very early 1900s.
There are many things that are part of this annual festival (held in early August) that are fairly typical of small town festivals. Lots of local music. Lots of local food.
However, Homer Davenport himself would probably appreciate that today a motorized Davenport race (self powered sofas) is now held in his honor on Silverton's main street.
Events are somewhat scattered, but most of the events are held in Silverton's Coolidge McCaine Park just south of downtown Silverton. The parade and the sofa races (er....Davenport races...) are held towards the center of downtown.
One of the first things you need to be told about the Oregon Garden is to not expect it to be what you have been told. Quite a number of people have written reviews of this spot that say "It's terrible, because it isn't at all like the xxxxx Garden in YYYYY."
It is not like some other garden in some other city or country. It is the Oregon Garden, and designed to be what people will pay to visit who are visiting the Willamette Valley. Don't expect it to be just like some other garden you have visited. If it were just like some other garden from somewhere else, it wouldn't be the Oregon Garden would it?
The concept was to create a garden attraction displaying the best of what can be done with plants and other outdoor features in the Willamette Valley climate. A location just outside Silverton was chosen, and construction of the first phase was completed and open for business in 2000. Thus completed a dream started in the 1940s by the Oregon Association of Nurseries.
There are currently over 30 separate smaller gardens within the Oregon Garden, including such pieces as: A Pet-Friendly Garden, a Children's Garden, some Edible Landscaping (including growing plants for the Silverton Farmer's Market), and the Lewis & Clark Garden (reserved for plants discovered by the Corps of Discovery).
More has been added since the opening, and in fact more continues to be added. Wanting a bit of extra income to provide for the financial needs of the garden complex, a deal was signed with upscale California hotel operator Moonstone to construct a resort hotel on the grounds. This hotel was opened in September 2008. As of 2010, the children's garden now features a few additional things for the children to play with, and there is a demonstration of a garden railway (which can be watched but not played with).
A fair amount of land at the Oregon Garden has been retained as natural habitat or sculpted to resemble various ecosystems (for example the hillside never had wetlands, but it does have wetlands now thanks to recycled wastewater and land shaping to create a new wetlands area that looks natural). This means there are things here for those interested in natural beauty, and for birders there are always visits by local bird life. This has included nests, and nest boxes have been provided. Chickadee and killdeer are among those you can find.
Historians may also be interested in the Gordon House, which is Oregon's almost-demolished single example of a Frank Lloyd Wright house. It was moved here from its original location.
Note that entrance fees in the winter are less than in the summer. April and October have in the past had special rates, but this year they are back to charging more for April through October, and reduced rates for November through March. Note also that the winter hours are reduced over the summer hours as well.
Picnicing is allowed in the garden, so long as you obey some common sense rules, such as having the picnic in designated areas rather than just anywhere you please, and no outside alcohol or barbecue cooking equipment. Pets are allowed so long as they are kept on a leash no longer than 8 feet (2.5 meters) and you pick up after your pet.
Watch for special events, both on the web site and on posters scattered throughout town. Concerts at the ampitheatre in the lower edge of the garden are now regular events. Earth Day has brought special events too.
The garden is located just outside Silverton, and connected to the city by city sidewalks.
While the Gordon House is located on the grounds of the Oregon Garden, management, restoration, maintenance, and admission tickets are separate.
This house is the only house in Oregon designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. As such, it was the subject of a significant restoration effort, and when the owners wanted to demolish the house to build something more to their liking, a massive house moving effort was launched to put the house into a location where it could be viewed by the public and appreciated.
In its original location, the house featured a spectacular view of Mt. Hood on one side and a view of a creek on the other. The new location does not offer this, but as much as possible the house location was designed to showcase the huge windows that allow for maximum appreciation of the landscape.
The Silver Falls State Park- hike to over 10 waterfalls, ranging from 27 to 130 feet. This picture was taken from behind one of the falls.
Four of the falls have an 'amphitheater'-like feature-- you can actually walk behind the falls to hear the roar of the rushing water above and feel the mist. A truly unique experience!