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Palenque

If you are only going to see one Mayan site in your life, I would recommend Palenque. With its gleaming white lime stone buildings, intact roof combs, intricately carved stele and lively jungle atmosphere, Palenque has it all. It’s not nearly as large (a lot of promising mounds in the jungle have not yet been excavated) as Tikal or Chichén Itzá, which means you can enjoy it without becoming too overwhelmed. There are some other cool things to visit nearby, waterfalls and, of course, more Mayan ruins. Furthermore, there is a really fun place to stay.

An en Alain's photo of Palenque.

Intact roof combs are one of the hallmarks of the Palenque ruins. Photo by An en Alain.

Palenque, located in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, is Classic Maya. Ruins date from around 226 BCE to 799 CE, and the city appears to have reached is peak in the 7th century. Once the site was abandoned, it was quickly swallowed up by surrounding jungle. Like Copán, Palenque has a lot of information written in hieroglyphics. This allowed archeologist to reconstruct its history. There was a time when many historians believed that Mayan were peaceful people and that war was not a part of their story. Now we know that’s not really the case. The written record of Palenque documents a long rivalry with the neighboring city-states of Calakmul and Toniná.

Carlos Adampol Galindo's photo of Palenque.

Makes you feel small…Photo by Carlos Adampol Galindo.

Meet the Monkeys

You’ll hear them before you see them. And it’s a sound you won’t soon forget. The fearsome screech made me imagine a terrifying, extra-terrestrial monster devouring a dog. Actually, they’re just friendly, little, leaf-eating monkeys, called Howlers because of the blood-curdling noise they make.

Near By

Two other Mayan sites lie within a short distance of Palenque. Yaxchilan, about 195 km from Palenque, has to be reached by boat. Though the architecture is less spectacular than at Palanque, the jungle is awesome. If you haven’t had enough howler monkeys, this is the place.

Bonampak (148km from Palenque) is a well intact site famous for its murals. For its colorful, gruesome, bloody, penis-impaling, fingernail-pulling-out murals.  Ouch! So much for the myth of the “peaceful Maya”!

There are also some not-to-be-missed waterfalls nearby, most famously Agua Azul.

zoutedrop's photo of a waterfall at Palenque

As with other Mayan sites, the natural setting is one of the highlights. Photo by zoutedrop.

El Panchán

The bus rumbles through a small, un-noteworthy modern town of Palenque on the way to the ruins. I didn’t stop there, and I don’t think you should either. The place to stay is in the delightful, jungle hippy-camp “El Panchán”. Nestled in the greenery, El Panchán is a completely self-contained little colony with lodging, restaurants and fun. The sounds of the monkeys mixes with the drum circles – a great place to hang out after a day of hiking around the ruins.

Builders of monuments, creators of calendars and discoverers of chocolate, the Maya easily hold their own as one of the most fascinating civilizations to have left their mark on the world. Mayan sites are some of the primary attractions which bring travelers to the American isthmus.   Today we’ll begin a tour of the some of the more famous Mayan sites with a visit to the towering monuments protruding from the jungle in Guatemala – Tikal. But first a little context…

Pedro Szekely's photo of Tikal

Great Plaza at Tikal. Photo by Pedro Szekely.

Mayan Basics

The Maya developed city-states starting from around 1800 BCE, in the area which is now Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Mayan history is generally divided into three periods: Pre-classic 1800 BCE – 250 CE, Classic from 250-900 CE and Post-classic from 900 CE until the arrival of Spanish Conquistadors.

Corn (maíz) was the basis of their subsistence, as it remains for the people living in this area today. The landscape was also characterized by large deposits of limestone, which the Maya used to carve monuments and decorate their temples. They had a pantheon of gods for whom they would sacrifice humans and make other (often bloody) offerings. Their hieroglyphic writing allowed them to record their history. They are also notable for their scientific advancements, such as the first known use of “zero” and the development of a strikingly accurate calendar systems.

For reasons that remain unknown, Mayan civilization began to decline around 900 and most sites were eventually abandoned. This does not mean that people died out. There are plenty of Mayan peoples populating their traditional lands today. But most of their great cities had been abandoned before the Spanish arrived. Experts debate about the cause of this decline, but that’s a subject for another post. Let’s get to Tikal.

kangotraveler's photo of ruins at Tikal.

Mayan ruins at Tikal. Photo by kangotraveler.

Visiting the Park

Located in the northern, El Petén, region of Guatemala, Tikal is easily accessed from either Flores or Santa Elena.

I found Tikal to be a fabulously well-managed park. Guides were knowledgeable, there were no flocks of vendors and wooden staircases have been constructed which allow you to climb the temples without actually climbing on the temples.

Katrina's photo of stairs going up a temple,

You’ll get plenty of exercise the day you visit Tikal! Photo by Katrina.

The entrance fee is upwards (charged in Quetzals which varies in value) of $20 USD, but totally worth it.

If you’re staying in nearby El Remate, Santa Elena or Flores, get your hiney out of bed early to be at the park when it opens at 6 AM. When I visited, the only lodging available in the park was camping or a spendy lodge. If I had it to do over, I would cough up the cash and stay in the park. There’s a lot to see here. Tikal claims to be the biggest excavated site on the continent. And the local wildlife is most active at dusk and dawn.

Tikal

Travelers are often advised to make their way immediately to the top of Temple IV, on the far side of the park in order to sit atop the temple and watch the pyramids emerge as the morning mist clears. This is, no doubt, a spectacular way to start the day, but I got distracted on the way there by all the exciting sounds of the jungle. That’s the thing about Tikal, the ruins are spectacular, but even if there were no ruins here, it would be worth the price of admission just to see the jungle. By the end of the day, I had seen so many monkeys, I wasn’t even bothering to look anymore. And birdwatchers will surely check more than one species of toucan off of their list.

Mike Murga's photo of temples protruding above the canopy

Only in Tikal…Photo by Mike Murga.

More than any other Mayan site I’ve visited, the builders of Tikal seemed obsessed with size, specifically height. The temples soar, reaching above the forest canopy towards the heavens. As the guide explained, their quickly-narrowing design gives the optical illusion of even more height. Climbing the stair-ladders (steeper than your average set of stairs) up one temple after another, I understood the guides comment. “Going up is physically challenging, coming down psychologically.”

Tikal is believed to have been home to around 100,000 people at its peak in the mid sixth century. It had conquered neighboring cities and was the dominant power in the region. The relics left behind, plazas, temples and artifacts filling two museums, make a fascinating introduction to the Mayan world for any traveler.

4Neus' photo of Tikal

A view that’s hard to beat. Photo by 4Neus.

I can imagine how Grand Teton National Park feels. It must be just like being in High School and having your big sister be the Head Cheerleader. No matter how great you are, everyone pays more attention to that Park next door.

In this case, the park next door is Yellowstone National Park. There’s no denying that with its first-park-fame, fearsome wildlife and explosive geology, Yellowstone is spectacular. But 3,447,727 people visited Yellowstone in 2012 and only 2,705,256 visited Grand Teton. That means that over seven-hundred-thousand people didn’t go to Grand Teton even though they were right next door. Idiots.

chascar's photo from Grand Teton National Park.

Hard to imagine a more beautiful place…Photo by chascar.

How Picturesque Can You Get?

My trip to Grand Teton National Park predated my decision to take no photos, so I have a few snapshot taken with a disposable camera. And they are gorgeous. This doesn’t say anything about my ability as photographer. It’s just hard to go wrong when you’re facing this kind of grandeur.

As one would expect for a National Park, Grand Teton offers fabulous hiking, fishing, boating and camping. But more than anything else, it’s a lovely place to just hang out and contemplate nature’s beauty.

Brian Holsclaw's photo of the Grand Tetons at sunrise.

Sunrise. Photo by Brian Holsclaw.

Geology & History of Grand Teton National Park

In spite of the obviously volcanic leanings of the Park next door, the Grand Tetons are faultblock mountains. Climbing a majestic 7,000 feet above the Snake River valley, the Tetons were formed by movement of the Earth’s crust with upward pressure forcing one of the blocks of crust to rise while the other is pushed downwards.

The 485 square miles of spectacular scenery that makes up the Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, large (moose, elk, deer, bear) and small (beavers, swans, cranes, Canada geese and ducks).

Grand Teton National Park was first established in 1929, but at this time the Park only included the mountains and surrounding lakes. The adjacent valley floors were added in 1950. The final touch was the 1972 addition of the Rockefeller Memorial Parkway which allows visitors easy access to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Ed Coyle's photo of a moose in Grand Teton National Park.

Like all National Parks, Grand Teton comes with its share of impressive wildlife. Photo by Ed Coyle.

Grand Teton National Park

Location: Northwestern Wyoming, just north of the town of Jackson and South of Yellowstone.

Dates & Hours: While National Parks are open daily, winter weather may make much of the Park inaccessible. Plan to visit between April and October and check the Park Website for alerts and closures.

Amenities: The Park includes six different visitor centers/ranger stations, six camping areas and two RV areas. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit. If camping is not your thing, lodging is available (private rooms, dormitories, or cabins) on the various “ranches” within the Park.

Fees: The entrance fee covers seven days and is good for both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Two for the price of one- hard to beat:

$25 per vehicle
$20 per motor cycle
$12 per person (hiking or biking into the park)

greg westfall's photo of the Grand Tetons.

Grand Tetons. Photo by greg westfall.

A Cool Conversation at 30,000 feet…

The second flight of the trip, I would be sandwiched in the middle seat for the five plus hours as we crossed the Pacific.  I didn’t much care as I planned on being unconscious for most of the time.  But before drifting off, I engaged in one of my favorite people watching pastimes – being a “book voyeur”.   Tablets have made this much harder to do, but whenever possible I still glance around to see what people are reading.  The gentleman next to me was reading in French.  Interesting.  I don’t usually meet many Europeans on these flights.

When I awoke for pop and peanuts, the man had gotten out his laptop and was working on a clearly work-related document.  It was written in English and had a lot of acronyms.   Something about it seemed “sciency”.  So when the opportunity presented itself, I popped the obvious question.

“Are you an astronomer?”

Our destination, the Big Island of Hawaii  is made up of five volcanoes.  The largest, Mauna Kea, is considered to be the second best place in the world for viewing the stars  (the best being Cerro Amazones, Chile).  It is home to thirteen world class telescopes, one of which is the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.  The man in the seat next to me was an astronomer-turned-administrator who was flying in from Paris for the annual Board Meeting of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Nogwater's photo of some Mauna Kea telescopes.

Mauna Kea telescopes. Photo by Nogwater.

Perhaps I should have left him in peace, but I couldn’t resist.

“So is there anything new and exciting happening on Mauna Kea right now?” I asked.  “Or is there always something exciting happening on Mauna Kea?”

He assured me that it was the latter and proceeded to give me a fascinating update on the state of the universe. The big story is that the universe is expanding.  Not only expanding, but expanding at an accelerating rate. This makes no sense, and has lead scientist to conclude that there’s some stuff we don’t know about, including some energy that seems to work in the opposite direction as gravity.  The stuff and the energy have been labeled “dark matter” and “dark energy”.  In this case, the word dark is being used as a euphemism for unknown.

Cool! The universe should be mysterious.

Visiting Mauna Kea

If you’re an armature astronomer, a little bit geeky, or just a curious person, a visit to Mauna Kea could be one of the highlights of your time in Hawaii.  You’ve never seen the sky like this.

Tiffany Mueller's photo of the night sky looking south from Mauna Kea.

Starry night. Photo by Tiffany Mueller.

You can arrange with a private tour company to take you to Mauna Kea, but their prices tend to be astronomical (sorry) and their services really aren’t necessary since there is a free stargazing program at the Visitor Center every night between from 6:00 – 10:00 PM.

Try to select a night when there is little or no moon.  And don’t worry if there are clouds in the sky when you start out on Saddle Road.  By the time you get to the visitor’s center, you’ll be above them.  Dress warm.  Things get chilly at 9,300 feet, and you’ll end up wanting to stay the whole four hours.  Snacks are available in the visitor center store  (the assortment of candy has been carefully selected for their names- Milky Way,  Star burst, etc), but it’s worth bringing picnic. If you’re coming in from the Hilo side, the ‘Imiloa Center makes an excellent preview.

The Summit

There are three ways to get to the summit of Mauna Kea- hike, take one of those expensive tours, or drive up in a 4-wheel drive vehicle.  The summit is at 14,000 feet and it’s a good idea to stop and hang out at the visitor’s center first to acclimate to the altitude. (Also, don’t go within 24 hours of going diving.).  Prepare for cold weather – it snowed when I went, and enjoy watching the sunset from above the clouds.

Tiffany Mueller's photo of a Mauna Kea sunset.

Mauna Kea sunset. Photo by Tiffany Mueller.

On Saturdays and Sundays, escorted summit tours (everyone caravans in their own vehicle) depart from the visitor’s center at around 1:00 PM, and include a tour of at least one of the observatories.  This is totally worth doing, especially if it means you get to see the Keck.

The Keck (there are actually two of them, called Keck I and Keck II) are an awesome bit of engineering.  Telescopes work by gather light onto a mirror.  The bigger the mirror, the more light they can collect, the more they can see.  The problem is that a mirror can only be so big.  Beyond a diameter of about 8 meters, a mirror will collapse under its own weight.  The Kecks get around this problem by having 36 hexagonal shaped mirrors fit and move together as one.

Big Dubya's photo of the inner workings of the Keck telescope.

Inside the Keck. Photo by Big Dubya.

Infinity and Beyond

In case you’ve already done so much traveling that you’re feeling this world is not enough, take heart! The upcoming decades promise to bring plenty of new out of this world discoveries.  A new Thirty Meter Telescope is planned for Mauna Kea and could be ready by 2018. Not to be outdone, the European Extremely Large Telescope (39 meters) is under construction in Cerro Amazones and is expected to be operational by 2022.  And the European Space Agency has just launched the GAIA space telescope on a five year mission to catalogue and monitor the Milky Way, to seek out new properties and information, to boldly map what no man has mapped before.

It’s the kind of event that could make the average Portlander (if they weren’t flexible from all that yoga) dislocate a shoulder from patting themselves on the back for how cool their city is.  Even in my state of I-don’t-really-belong-in-my-home-town cynicism, I have to admit that this is pretty special.  An incredible natural display in the sky above, and on the ground below a warm, fuzzy, urban scene that would make the world’s most committed hermit believe in community.  September is the best month to be in Oregon.  And watching the swifts at Chapman Elementary School is one of the best things to do in Portland.

Spectacle in the Sky

Gazing upwards, at first I see nothing.  But as the light fades the swifts start to appear – small, chattering, fast moving flecks in the sky.  More and more arrive, swooping and spiraling around as they prepare to roost for the night.  They are migratory birds, passing through Portland on their way to Central America or Venezuela.  They typically roost by hanging on the inside walls of dead, hollowed-out trees, but there are fewer and fewer of those around, so they go for the next best thing – a chimney.

As the evening stretches on, more and more birds arrive.  They swarm around making a giant figure eight in the sky.  Sometimes they are not alone.  A hawk or falcon will show up to take advantage of the passing buffet- high drama in the sky.  Then suddenly, as if someone had given a signal, the birds will dive down into the chimney.

 K. Kendall's photo of swifts entering the chimney of a Portland elementary school.

The grand finale. Photo by K. Kendall.

A Portland Scene

Though not nearly as dramatic, the scene on the ground is pretty cool too.  Families come with picnics. Kids bring pieces of cardboard to use as sleds sliding down the grassy slope outside the school- a “kid mosh pit” I heard a woman say.  Everyone “oohs” and “ahs” and applauds the birds.  An independent film maker was so taken with the scene that he made a movie about it.

Eli Duke's photo of a young Portland businessman.

Young Portland entrepreneur. Photo by Eli Duke.

The story of the Portland swifts follows a happy narrative of human cooperation. There is an inherit problem with using a chimney as a roosting site.  People also use chimneys for heat.  Some years the swifts don’t leave until mid-October when things are getting chilly.  With the blessing of the students (they voted on it) the school decided not to turn the furnace on until the birds left, but how do you teach arithmetic to a shivering child? In 2000, the school and the Portland Audubon Society worked together raising funds to convert the heating system and stabilize the chimney.  Now the kids can be warm even when the birds are in town.

K. Kendall's photo of the crowd at Chapman Elementary.

Portlanders gather for the sky show. Photo by K. Kendall.

How to See the Swifts

Where: Chapman Elementary School is located at 1445 NW 26th.

When: An hour or so before sunset on any September evening.

What to Bring:  You don’t have to bring anything, but you may be more comfortable if you have a blanket or chair to sit on.  And why not pack a picnic?

Price: Free!

How Many Birds Will I See?  Thousands.  Literally.  Counts (some lucky soul from the Audubon attempts to count every night) range from 2,000 to 15,000.  Numbers usually peak in the middle of the month.  Check the Portland Audubon Society Swiftwatch page for more information.

In my previous post, I talked about how I forgot about the time when I snorkelled at Apo Island. How true it was; we almost forgot our lunch, good thing our hungry tummies never fail to remind us to eat.

Lunchtime

Hungry Pack

Hungry Pack

Grilled Fish and Rice

Grilled Fish and Rice

For our late lunch, we bought a freshly caught big fish from a local vendor and asked them to grill it for us. They also cooked us rice and bought us softdrinks and “sawsawan” (Filipino liquid seasoning), all for a very affordable price of course. We had a hearty lunch under the scorching heat of the summer sun. I highly recommend you buy freshly-caught fish from locals and let them grill it for you.  It’s a refreshing experience, especially if you’re used to having fast food in the city. After that sumptuous feast, we were all geared up for our second dip.

Clown Fish City

Clown Fish City, Apo Island Photo from Tommy Schultz

Everyone knows about the fish with bright orange and white stripes.  Thanks to the movie “Finding Nemo”, we already knew that clown fish exist and that they live in sea anemones. And when we talk about sea anemones, the island has a lot of them. I read before that Apo Island is said to be “Clown Fish City”, and indeed, it is! It was then that I knew, mature fish tend to change into a darker orange hue as they age. Clown fish go on swimming and playing happily in and out of the anemones, just like what I saw in the Disney movie. They went on with their daily lives not minding the five humans swimming overhead.

Marine Sanctuary

Marine Sanctuary

The tide was beginning to get low so our guide had to stop our snorkelling escapade after an hour of snorkelling. We returned all the gears we borrowed and headed to the port where our pumpboat was religiously waiting for us.

Sea Turtles

Going to see the Turtles

Going to see the Turtles

But before reaching the boat, our guide led us to a place where we could see big “pawikans” (sea turtles) up close. The place where we snorkelled was not as attractive as the Marine Sanctuary but we were amazed to see big (as in, really big) sea turtles swimming lazily and eating sea grass every now and then.  Locals said that big sea turtles are a common site, one can always see their round heads bob up and down the water, that is if, you know where to look. We swam near the “pawikan” that our guide was pointing at yet we didn’t get to go really close because sea turtles are really shy. They tend to swim away when they see someone going near them. So after half an hour or so, we decide that it was about time to travel back to the city.

Going Home

Going Home

Going Home

The trip back was a nasty one.  It was twice as rough as our morning trip and the waves were really not friendly because of the grumpy weather. The sky was really gloomy and raindrops were pouring every now and then. There was a time when our boat man had to kill the boat’s engine so that we could dance to the rhythm of the sea and avoid being capsized. The captain mentioned that the waves we encountered were just mild compared to the waves during the stormy season. I just closed my eyes and said a prayer for a safe trip and before I knew it we were already nearing the port.

I highly recommend Apo Island to all the people who wanted to experience marine life at its best. I’m not a diving/snorkelling expert but I have to say that the island’s marine life is absolutely breathtaking; absolutely worth your while, despite the rough sea trip.

Please drop by again next week for another snorkelling adventure with me, Wynna. :)

“Are you Bob?” I asked reaching out to shake the hand of the owner Bed, Breakfast and Microbrewery at Lago de Yajoa.  “And is it true that you’re from Timber?”

He looked at me quizzically.  “I’m from Gales Creek,” I added.

Then he looked at me as if I had three heads, turned to a friend and said, “These are not big towns we’re talking about.”

They’re hardly towns at all.  Nestled in the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, Gales Creek has an official population of about 650 people.  At its height, it had a couple of taverns, a store, a volunteer fire station, a school and a church.  Most of that’s no longer functioning.  Timber, about seven miles away is even smaller, with a population of 131.  But it has a stop sign where the train tracks cross the highway, so that makes it more official.

And now I was at Lago de Yojoa, in the middle of Honduras, introducing myself to Bob From Timber.

This kind of thing happens all the time.  My parents (from the same booming metropolis of Gales Creek) met a couple from the next valley over in an elevator in Shanghai.  And prior to introducing myself to Bob, I’d met two young men from Vernonia, another Coast Range town (a “big city” of 2,000 people, located 15 miles from Timber). Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise.  I’d met quite a few people from the Pacific Northwest traveling in Central America – all of us enjoying being warm in February.  And of course, when the guidebook says that an”Oregonian Brewmaster” has set up a good place to stay, we flock there like flies on shit.  But you just don’t expect to meet people from places that small, that far away.  Traveling makes the world seem bigger and smaller at the same time.

Dominic Sherony's photo of a Gartered Trogon.

Gartered Trogon. Photo by Gartered Trogon.

Lago de Yajoa is for the Birds

I’m a baby birder (it’s me that’s the baby, not the birds).  I don’t really know anything about bird watching, but a friend’s enthusiasm has leaked over and I’m starting to get into it.  I like being in nature, trying to refine my powers of observation, and being dazzled by the brilliant colors.

Lago de Yajoa is home to around 400 species of birds.  Sitting in the courtyard, sipping my beer, I met up with a naturalist who takes folks out on bird watching tours at the lake.

I saw five different kinds of toucans that day and learned, to my delight, that the Spanish word for woodpecker is “carpintero”.  (And saw three different kinds of carpinteros.)

Adalberto.H.Vega' s photo of a keel-billed toucan. Like one I saw at Lago de Yajoa.

Toucan! Like one I saw at Lago de Yajoa. Photo by Adalberto.H.Vega.

The area around Lago de Yajoa includes three National Parks and a 43 meter waterfall.  You should go there.  (Even if you’re not from a microscopic town in western Oregon.)

 

“I changed my mind about tomorrow,” he said. “I think we should just do this one again.” I was a little bit taken aback.  We go hiking together a lot and returning the same way we came is practically against his religion.  And now here we were in Silver Falls State Park with miles of unexplored trails and he was suggesting that we repeat the one we’d already done.

But he had a point.  Nothing can beat the Trail of Ten Falls.

The Trail

Anyone who knows me, and knows what a klutz I am might think I’m talking about ten unexpected encounters I made with the ground.  Not so. It’s water that does the falling.

SKimchee's photo of Silver Falls.

Silver Falls. Photo by SKimchee.

David Berry's photo of Silver Creek, along the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

Following the creek. Photo by David Berry.

Frank Kovalchek's photo of the South Falls at Silver Falls State Park.

South Falls. Photo by Frank Kovalchek.

Regardless of which of the three trail heads you choose, you will start at the top of a waterfall and then descend down into a magical canyon, filled with ferns, carpeted by lush green moss and protected by a canopy of Douglas Fir. The path meanders alongside Silver Creek.  At one point, the trail diverges from the creek for a short (very short) time, and when we were once again next to the creek, I had to consult a map to address my confusion.  The water was flowing in the opposite direction.  The map confirmed the only logical explanation, two different branches of the creek were flowing down from the mountains to join together below.

This eight-plus mile trail is rated as moderately strenuous due to its 800 foot elevation change.  Regardless of whether or not you find it strenuous, you are guaranteed to find it rewarding.  Over and over again, you hear the roaring sound of pounding water, see the fall in front of you, and later feel the spray as you pass behind it.  Hiking doesn’t get much better than this.

 

History of the Park

Land for Silver Falls State Park was purchased from Marion County beginning in the 1930s.  Over the years, additional acquisitions were made and today the Park covers over 9,000 acres.  The site was considered for a National Park, but it was decided that the area had already been too altered by humans and that it would be more appropriate as a State Park.  Like many of America’s great parks, Silver Falls boasts the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, who as part of the Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration built the South Falls Lodge as well as many of the trails and picnic facilities.

In places like this, however, it is the natural history which takes precedence.  Water descending from the Cascade Mountains down to the Willamette Valley passes over basalt lava.  The basalt rests on older, softer rock which eroded away over time, providing easy access for a trails behind the falls.

Visiting Silver Falls 

Silver Falls State Park is located about 25 miles east of Salem, Oregon.  The Park is the main destination in this area, but on the way you will pass through the picturesque small towns of Mount Angel  and Silverton, both of which are worthy of a meander.

Along with hiking, the Park also has bike and horse trails (click here for a brochure and trail map), tent camping, cabins and RV sites. Other amenities include a lodge, café and gift shop. The Park is open year round and there is a $5 day use fee.