Cooped-up hikers who've been eager to get their waterfall fix now have an option just 90 minutes south of Portland: Silver Falls State Park is back open.
Oregon State Parks and Recreation began allowing visitors to access the site, which is about 20 miles east of Salem, starting this morning. What's often referred to as the "crown jewel" of the agency's system isn't operating at full capacity just yet. While trailheads and two day-use areas, South Falls and Howard Creek, are open, the visitor center, park store and overnight facilities remain closed for the time being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At more than 9,000 acres, Silver Falls is Oregon's largest state park, so you might assume there is plenty of room for people to spread out. But Oregon State Parks warns that you should be prepared to turn around and leave if conditions are too crowded. And 10 stunning waterfalls to gawk at will surely be a draw for folks who've been stuck inside for two months.
The opening is the latest in a slowly unspooling list of recreational lands welcoming back people. While many surrounding the Portland metro area are still off limits, including locations in the Gorge and along the North Coast, a growing number of some of the more popular sites are open again, including Smith Rock north of Bend, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, and the D River State Recreation Site in Lincoln City.
If you venture out, keep in mind that many facilities, like restrooms, lodges and lighthouses, remain shuttered. Bring your own hand-washing or sanitizing equipment, stay 6 feet away from others and wear face masks in high-traffic areas like parking lots and trailheads. Camping is prohibited entirely until further notice.