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Bear Camp Road to close for winter

Bear Camp Road will close Monday to safeguard the public from treacherous winter conditions. Associated Press file photo
Remote road has claimed lives of lost drivers

A remote, winding road that connects the Rogue Valley to the Oregon Coast will close for the winter to safeguard the public from hazardous conditions.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management Medford District will close a gate on Bear Camp Road Monday. The gate is located near the small community of Galice on the lower Rogue River.

The gate is closed every year for public safety ahead of winter weather. It will remain closed until spring conditions allow for safe travel by the public. The road is not plowed in the winter, BLM said.

Travelers should use Highway 199 as an alternate route.

Although Highway 199 is a more indirect route to the coast that covers more miles, people can drive much faster on the highway than on Bear Camp Road, a small road that winds through rugged mountains.

Bear Camp Road gained national notoriety in 2006 when James and Kati Kim and their two daughters attempted to drive to Gold Beach on the road and got stuck. After six days waiting for rescue, James Kim attempted to walk out to seek help but died of hypothermia. Searchers found Kati Kim and the children alive near their car.

Numerous other drivers have become lost and stranded on Bear Camp Road and its side roads, including a traveling salesman who died of starvation in 1994 after waiting to be rescued for nine weeks.

The BLM and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, which manage Bear Camp Road, offered tips for winter travel.

  • Carry extra food, water and warm clothing to account for longer travel times than expected. Carry chains, a flashlight and proper attire to install the chains, should the need arise.
  • In addition to paper maps, go digital and download public lands maps using Avenza Maps. Cell service is not necessary once the maps are downloaded to your device. Visit avenzamaps.com to find maps.
  • For Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest maps, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/rogue-siskiyou/maps-pubs or visit a local ranger station.
  • Know before you go. Be aware of predicted weather and road conditions of major highways that provide access to public lands. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and road conditions. Know the predicted weather for your route and your destination, and how it can possibly affect your travel plans.
  • Always let someone know your expected travel route.