Oregon's Best State Parks
Silver Falls State Park
Oregon's largest state park, Silver Falls, showcases 8,700 acres of temperate rain forest in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, 26 miles east of Salem. The park offers a wide array of recreational opportunities, including both individual and group camping. Its premier feature, however, is its seven-mile, nationally recognized Silver Creek Canyon Trail that passes 10 majestic waterfalls. The trail winds behind four of the falls, including the highest (177-foot South Falls) along its route through some of Oregon's greenest, most beautiful scenery. Other trails include a four-mile bicycle path and 14 miles of horse trails. Campground offerings include 54 sites with electrical hookups, 51 tent sites, an eight-site horse camp and 10 log cabins. Unique group camping facilities include two ranch buildings, a youth camp and the park's North Falls RV and tent areas. A day-use lodge listed on the National Register of Historic Places and used for natural interpretive programs is the centerpiece of a spacious day-use area that includes picnic shelters and a swimming area. The park's facilities also include a conference center with a dining hall, lodges and cabins.
Smith Rock State Park
A sanctuary of high-rising rock spires overlooking scenic Crooked River Canyon, Smith Rock State Park is an international destination for rock climbers. Besides hundreds of climbing routes, the 651-acre park offers more than seven miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, some following the river beneath the spectacular rock formations and others affording splendid views of distant Cascade mountain peaks. The park also includes a walk-in bivouac camping area. Located nine miles northeast of Redmond in central Oregon, the park offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities to see golden eagles, prairie falcons, mule deer, river otter and beaver.
Shore Acres State Park
Perched on rugged sandstone cliffs high above the ocean, Shore Acres State Park is a eye-pleasing combination of beautiful natural and man-made features. Once the grand estate of a pioneer lumberman and shipping baron, the park features spectacular ocean views and approximately 80 acres of gardens. A formal garden featuring restored plants and flowers originally acquired from around the world, an oriental-style pond and two rose gardens make up the park's spectacular floral display. From Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, the gardens come ablaze with thousands of decorative holiday lights. Trails from the gardens and parking area lead to a secluded ocean cove and to cliffside viewpoints that make the park one of the best wave and whale-watching locations on the Oregon coast. A fully enclosed observation building, which stands on the site once occupied by the estate's mansion, is popular for storm-watching. Shore Acres is adjacent to two other state parks 13 miles southwest of Coos Bay on the southern Oregon coast.
Ecola State Park
This 1,305-acre coastal park wraps around scenically prominent Tillamook Head on Oregon's north coast just north of Cannon Beach. Its trails and viewpoints along nine miles of cliffside shoreline overlook panoramic spectacles that include picture postcard seascapes, cozy coves, densely forested promontories and a long-abandoned lighthouse atop a 100-foot-high, offshore rock. Picnic tables stand near scenic viewpoints at the park's Ecola Point and Indian Beach parking areas. A covered picnic shelter, reservable for group picnics, is available at Ecola Point. The Oregon Coast Trail's route over Tillamook Head forms the park's backbone. Hiking options vary from round-trip sorties to shorter hikes originating from Ecola Point, Indian Beach and small parking wayside on the north side of the head in Seaside. A small campsite for hikers is four miles south of the Seaside parking area. The name "Ecola" is a variation of the Chinook word for whale ("ekoli"). Captain William Clark used the word to name a creek south of the park after leading a Corps of Discovery contingent over the head from Fort Clatsop in search of a beached whale.
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