RV Trips: Waterfall Chasing in Oregon
We don’t like to brag (Okay, yes we do!), but our home state is blessed with some of the most gorgeous country for RVing in all of North America. That’s why Oregon continually gets voted as the best state to RV in. And one of the must-sees if you’re planning an Oregon vacation, is our amazing waterfalls! We’ve got hundreds of them, including quite a number of spectacular waterfalls right here in Lane County, near Guaranty RV. A lot of these beauties are easily accessible or offer drive-up viewpoints, so they’re excellent destinations even if you aren’t interested in taking a hike. If you are interested in strapping on your hiking boots, your options open up even wider. There are so many waterfalls to choose from, you might find it hard to know where to begin. Fortunately, a lot of waterfall-loving Oregonians have already done the legwork for you and you’ll find all kinds of information online, like this article, “ The 25 greatest waterfalls in Oregon” from OregonLive, or these must-see waterfall guides at Travel Oregon.
Our waterfalls are such a part of the Oregon landscape, and RVing is such a piece of the state’s history, that it’s no surprise they go well together—whether you’re planning a road trip around your favorite waterfall destinations, or you’d rather just settle into a great campsite and use it as your homebase to explore the area.
There are three destinations to keep in mind for your next RV vacation if you’re looking to combine a great RV campsite with access to waterfalls. Two of these will give you multiple falls to choose from, and the third offers peace, tranquility and waterfalls close at hand.
Silver Falls State Park
This is the place to be for active RVers who love to hike, bike and otherwise get close to nature. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, Silver Falls State Park is called the Crown Jewel of the Oregon State Parks system. At 9,200 hundred acres, it is our largest state park and features a remarkable number of waterfalls, trails and other recreational opportunities in its more than 25 miles of backcountry. Whether you love hiking, biking, swimming or horseback riding, you’ll find your own personal paradise at this state park. If you’re not looking for quite that much strenuous activity, however, take the Trail of Ten Falls for a more moderate, hike that takes you past some of the most famously beautiful waterfalls in the U.S. The trail winds behind South Falls as well, for a dramatic view of the backside of a “plunge” fall. As you can imagine, this is a favorite destination for families, and you’ll find a wonderful day-use area that includes lawns, barbecue stands, a playground, picnic shelters, a creek and more.
Silver Falls State Park is also a great homebase for a longer stay. You’ll be in the center of Oregon wine country and in close proximity to some of Oregon’s most charming historical towns including Silverton, Stayton and Mt. Angel.
Located just 25 miles from the state capitol of Salem, Silver Falls is easy to get to from Interstate 5, and is open all year. There are more than 100 RV sites that range from 40 to 84 feet long (mostly back in sites). About half of the sites have 50 amp full hookups. There are also ADA Standard campsites available for RVers who need more accessibility. There are hot showers for your convenience and you’ll find an RV dump station at the North Falls group camp, just three miles from the main campground. You’ll find more details about Silver Falls State Park campsites, RV length, reservations, etc. at Reserve America.
Multnomah Falls and Ainsworth State Park
The Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge has the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America. Along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you can see five waterfalls in the short distance between Corbett and Dodson alone, including the famous 620-foot Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is the most visited recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, partly because the waterfall is so dramatic while also being very accessible. You can hike up closer if you’re looking for some exercise, but you can also see this fall from the comfort of your RV if you want.
Whether you’re looking to relax by a campfire, swim in a river, hike in the woods, catch a fish, or photograph the plunge of a waterfall, the Columbia River Gorge area has something for everyone, including a host of must-see’s like the Bonneville Lock and Dam, fish hatcheries, the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum, and more. And you’ll find great places to enjoy local food and drink as well.
Ainsworth State Park, on the eastern end of the Historic Columbia River Highway, is a wonderful place for RVers to call home while visiting the Gorge. Located just four miles from Multnomah Falls trailhead and lodge, this forested campground is convenient to get to and is close to all the sites you’ll want to visit. It offers 40 full-hookup campsites, including one ADA Standard site campsite. Sites range from 32 to 83 feet, and include both back-in sites and pull-through. There are flush toilets, showers, universal access and a dump station in the campground. Hikers will love the fact that this park gives you easy access to Nesmith Point Trail—follow it to see the basalt monolith, St. Peter’s Dome, towering over the Columbia River. And for those of you who like the view, but don’t like hiking, there is an accessible scenic overlook that will give you a wonderful view of the Gorge. There is also a creek at one end of the park so you can cool off on hot days. Get more details about Ainsworth State Park at Reserve America.
Joe Creek Waterfall and the Grants Pass KOA
You might not think of a KOA as a great place to hang out at a waterfall, but the Grants Pass KOA will surprise you. Formerly known as Joe Creek Waterfalls RV Resort, this KOA offers swimming holes in the summer, waterfalls year round, and is a great place to call home while you explore Oregon’s Rogue River area. The Rogue River is just 15 minutes from the campground, and is so amazing it has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River. It’s the perfect place to get back to nature with prime hiking and fishing areas, but also ideal for jetboat excursions, whitewater rafting and other adventures. And when you’ve had all the fun you can manage, you can head back to your RV at the Grants Pass KOA and have a perfect place to unwind in a peaceful setting with beautiful views all around. Take a short walk to see the waterfall and enjoy a bracing dip in one of the three swimming holes. Or just sit by Jump Off Joe Creek sipping your drink of choice and enjoy some well earned down time. (Want to know where the name Jump Off Joe Creek came from? Here you go.)
The Grants Pass KOA has a fully stocked general store and propane for your convenience, but if you need more supplies or you’re looking for a good place to do some antiquing or therapeutic shopping, Grants Pass is only nine miles away and has a lovely historic downtown. Be sure to head into town on a Saturday to enjoy the weekly farmer’s market.
The Grants Pass KOA has 46 wooded RV and tent sites, most of which are pull-through sites. The largest site is 70 feet. They offer full hookups, 30 and 50 amp service, Wi-Fi, showers, laundry and more. Explore the campground website to learn more.
We know we shouldn’t brag, but it’s hard not to when we live in such a natural paradise that also welcomes RVers. Come visit us and do some waterfall chasing; you’ll be glad you did. And while you’re at it, come on by Guaranty RV in Junction City and say hi.
If you have any questions, we’re here to help.
Photo credit: icetsarina