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Bear Camp Road reopening for the season

Bear Camp Road will reopen for the season Friday after crews clear remaining snow drifts. Associated Press / file photo
Road offers scenic, but potentially dangerous, route to coast

A remote, winding road that connects the Rogue Valley to the Oregon Coast will reopen for the recreation season Friday after crews finish clearing what remains of winter snow drifts.

Bear Camp Road between Galice and Gold Beach has been closed since December 2021 to protect the public from hazardous winter conditions.

Measured by miles, Bear Camp Road is a shorter route to the coast than other options. But the road turns to dirt and gravel as it winds through rugged mountains, making for slow driving without gas stations or other services.

Traveling to the coast via Highways 199 and 101 keeps drivers on paved roads with services.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management recommend trailers, motorhomes and oversized vehicles always use the highway routes, even when Bear Camp Road is open.

The Forest Service and BLM jointly manage Bear Camp Road.

The agencies advise people to drive with caution and avoid using less-traveled roads, particularly early in the season before all road surfaces are thoroughly dry. Not all BLM and Forest Service roads have been maintained or checked after the winter.

Be prepared when driving backcountry roads, because weather and road conditions may change rapidly. Carry extra blankets, food, water, clothing and emergency equipment. When driving, keep lights on, drive slowly and be prepared to stop for oncoming traffic, particularly on blind corners, the Forest Service and BLM recommend.

Bear Camp Road gained national notoriety in November 2006 when James and Kati Kim of San Francisco 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.

For additional information on Bear Camp Road and its current status, contact the Gold Beach Ranger District at 541-247-3600, the Grants Pass Interagency Office at 541-471-6500 or the Wild Rivers Ranger District at 541-592-4000.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.