Bear Camp Road will reopen for the season on Friday after crews clear the remaining drifts. Associated Press/File Photo
The road offers a scenic, but potentially dangerous route to the coast
A remote, winding road that connects Rogue Valley to the Oregon Coast will reopen for the recreation season on Friday after crews finish cleaning up what’s left of the winter snowdrifts.
Bear Camp Road between Galicia and Gold Beach has been closed since December 2021 to protect the public from dangerous winter conditions.
Measured in miles, Bear Camp Road is a shorter route to the coast than the other options. But the road turns to dirt and gravel as it winds through steep mountains, making for slow driving with no gas stations or other services.
Getting 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 that trailers, RVs, and oversized vehicles always use the roads, even when Bear Camp Road is open.
The Forest Service and BLM jointly manage Bear Camp Road.
The agencies are advising people to drive with caution and avoid using roads less travelled, particularly at the start of the season before all road surfaces are completely dry. Not all BLM and Forest Service roads have been maintained or checked after winter.
Be prepared when driving on backcountry roads as weather and road conditions can change quickly. Pack extra blankets, food, water, clothing and emergency gear. When driving, keep lights on, drive slowly, and be prepared to stop for oncoming traffic, especially on blind turns, the Forest Service and BLM recommend.
Bear Camp Road gained national notoriety in November 2006 when James and Kati Kim from San Francisco and their two daughters tried to get to Gold Beach on the road and got stuck. After six days of waiting for help, James Kim attempted to go out for help but died of hypothermia. Searchers found Kati Kim and the children alive near their car.
Many other drivers have become lost and stranded on Bear Camp Road and its secondary roads, including a street vendor who died of starvation in 1994 after waiting nine weeks for rescue.
For more information on Bear Camp Road and its current condition, 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 .
Contact Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.