Kern River Canyon


The Upper Kern River, located between Lake Isabella and the Johnsondale Bridge, is part of the North Fork of the Kern Wild and Scenic River. Whitewater boating and fishing are popular activities here. There are several day-use areas and developed campgrounds along the river, and dispersed camping and campfires (with permits) are allowed in much of the area. However, these campsites and fires must be at least 25-feet from the river’s edge.

The Lower Kern River follows Highway-178 on its long, steep, and winding canyon way to Bakersfield. Whitewater boating is also popular here, and the day sites include launch and take-out areas as well as picnic tables, restrooms, and fishing access. Paddling the Kern River in a private watercraft requires an annual Kern River Use Permit (groups are limited to no more than 18 persons), which are issued at forest offices. A Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device must be readily accessible, properly fit, and in good condition for each member of the party.

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