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Popular Upper Rogue sites to close for upkeep

Southern Oregon visitors taking in the natural wonders of the far Upper Rogue River will see their "A" tour altered this summer as the U.S. Forest Service upgrades some of its more popular day-use recreation sites along Highway 62.

Beginning Tuesday, the parking facilities and bathroom at the Rogue Gorge Viewpoint will be closed through June 25 while contractors rehab the facilities there, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Natural Bridge Day Use Recreation Area will close to the public Thursday, May 31 through July 2, while similar work is done there, along with rebuilding a trail bridge near the viewing area, according to the Forest Service. The Natural Bridge Campground, however, will remain open.

The Farewell Bend Snow Park will be closed June 15-21 and the Union Creek Wayside restroom will be closed July 9-13 for improvements.

"Those are popular sites up there," said Eric Grim, a Forest Service civil engineer working on the project. "They're going to be enhanced, the parking areas will be increased and access will improve in the long run."

Visitors to the Rogue Gorge can reach it by hiking in along the Rogue River Trail from nearby campgrounds, Grim said.

Visitors also can use the small Highway 62 pullout to view the rapids just upstream of the gorge, but that area is not a managed recreational site, said Les Moscoso, the recreation staff officer for the forest's High Cascades Ranger District.

That access point does not have fencing to separate visitors from the river as the gorge viewpoint does.

That's where a tourist from Mexico slipped and fell into the Rogue on May 3 and was swept into the gorge. He is presumed drowned, and his body has not been recovered.

The construction work will be done by Johnson Rock Products of Coos Bay under a $575,000 contract with the Forest Service, Grim said. The work on the aged facilities has been planned for several years, he said.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.