GALICE — The 50-mile Bear Camp Road to the coast is now open, thanks to an early snow melt.

GALICE — The 50-mile Bear Camp Road to the coast is now open, thanks to an early snow melt.

The road officially opened today after road crews completed snow-drift removal, said Paul Galloway, spokesman for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The popular route for recreational travelers between Galice and Agness isn't usually open until Memorial Day weekend.

"This is about a week before we originally anticipated it would be open," he said. "Most of the snow fell early in the season. And we've had a spate of warm weather this spring. The sun helped us out a lot."

So did a construction firm which needed to move a road grader from the Rogue Valley to Gold Beach, he said, noting the company used the grader to remove snow from the road.

"We didn't have any of the large slides or other impediments in the road this year as we have had in past years," he said.

The winding mountain road, which provides the shortest motor route between Grants Pass and Gold Beach, is normally open from Memorial Day through the end of October.

About 37 miles of the road lies within national forest boundaries. Another 12 miles is on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Medford District.

The route is heavily used by recreational drivers and as a shuttle route by those floating the whitewater on the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Rogue River. The Memorial Day weekend is the traditional beginning of the recreation season that stretches into the fall when snow closes the road.

The road is not maintained from early November to Memorial Day weekend.

For more information on the Bear Camp Road and current road status, call the Gold Beach Ranger Station at 541-247-3600 and the Wild Rivers Ranger Station at 541-471-6500 or at 541-592-4000.

— Paul Fattig

Read more in Saturday's Mail Tribune.