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Silver Falls State Park

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Why a Wonder: Silver Falls State Park offers some of the most amazing waterfalls in Oregon, a state renowned for beautiful and magnificent waterfalls.

Where: Twenty miles east of Salem, Oregon.

When: Silver Falls is open year round. Ideal times: April to early June, when the foliage is green, the water volume is high and flowers are blooming; and October to early November, when you can capture beautiful fall colors.

Peak color for many of the broad-leaf maple trees is usually the third week of October, but each year varies. In winter, occasional ice and snow around the waterfalls offer wonderful photo opportunities.

Photography: Cloudy days are ideal for waterfall photography because there is little glare on the water. However, because the falls are in such a deep canyon, you can often photograph in the shade on sunny days – depending on the time of day.

Bring a wide-angle lenses to photograph the falls, but also pack a 70-200 mm lens to get up-close waterfall detail shots. Be sure to use a polarizing filter to reduce the glare off of the water, as well as foliage. Use a tripod and a neutral density filter to get slower shutter speeds for the silky water effect.

As many of the falls are in a deep canyon with enormous trees, you can often get slow shutter speeds without a neutral density filter, but bring one along just in case. Try different shutter speeds when photographing the waterfalls, and then you can decide which look you prefer when post processing.

More: To get to the falls, hike the “Trail of Ten Falls” descending into an old growth forest. You can hike the entire trail, a 7.2 mile loop, but avid photographers usually access the waterfalls from three different locations – for shorter hikes to have more time photographing.

At the South Falls, park in one of the large parking lots for a short hike to the 177 ft. South Falls – the most popular falls in the park. As with many of the falls, you can walk behind this waterfall. Continue down to Lower South Falls, which is also a beautiful walk-behind waterfall.

The next area to access is a small parking lot at Winter Falls, which gets you to the middle group of waterfalls. The third access is at North Falls. There is a huge cave behind North Falls, which is a nice location to practice your high dynamic range skills.

Learn more: Oregon State Parks, Alex Morley Photo.

© Alex Morley

This post sponsored by Breakthrough Photography.

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