The 100-foot waterfalls are still there.
So are the wildflowers, emerald forest and, most importantly, the little cafe that serves hot chocolate (plus other snacks).
Silver Falls State Park reopened this week after a nearly six week COVID-19 closure, and everything looked pretty normal save a few hikers wearing masks.
The South Falls Lodge was shuttered, the campground remained closed and the playground equipment was wrapped in orange mesh fencing. But all the trails were open, the forest boasted every possible shade of green and the waterfalls were booming after the recent rains.
Spring is often viewed as the best time to visit Silver Falls, the gem of Oregon's state park system to the east of Salem, but visitors are advised to be wary.
While crowds were thin Tuesday amid drizzle and gray skies, this weekend is expected to bring sunnier conditions and more crowds.
Parking at Silver Falls will be limited by 25 percent, and anyone who can't find a place to park will be asked to leave or directed to a different area, park manager Guy Rodrigue said.
"The reduction will be done by (gating off) some parking lots," he said. "Visitors will be asked to return during slower periods or directed to less congested areas of the park if we reach our reduced capacity."
The reduced capacity for parking will continue "until we can better evaluate congestion both in the day-use areas as well as the trails," Rodrigue said.
Four bathrooms are open, including three in the South Falls area and one at the North Falls Trailhead. The only bathrooms closed are those in the South Falls Lodge.
The small cafe at the lodge is open for outdoor service, including purchasing some snacks. The tables have been removed.
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Hikers are recommended to wear a mask, officials said.
"We’re recommending people wear a face covering (mask or homemade) in any situation where they can’t maintain 6 feet physical distance from people not in their household," Oregon Parks and Recreation Department spokesman Chris Havel said. "That does include most trails, plus viewpoints, restrooms, parking areas, and anywhere else you see a crowd.
"For a trail, that can mean you carry the covering around your neck and pop it up over your nose and mouth when you pass someone."
So come early, bring a mask and food and revel in the resplendent glory of Oregon's waterfall ally.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors reporter, photographer and videographer in Oregon for 12 years. To support his work, subscribe to the Statesman Journal. Urness is the author of “Best Hikes with Kids: Oregon” and “Hiking Southern Oregon.” He can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.
This article was originally published by the Salem Statesman Journal, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.
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