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Upper Kern River

Lake, River, or Waterfall

The section of the Kern River between Lake Isabella and the Johnsondale Bridge is the North Fork of the Kern River and commonly called the Upper Kern. Designated a Wild and Scenic River, this section of the river is easily accessed by vehicle. Gray pines, scrub oaks, grass, and dry climate shrubs cling to steep, canyon walls while cottonwoods and willows line the river. Be aware of poison oak.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are permitted. A six foot leash is required.

Recreational Opportunities

Overnight Along The Upper River. A number of developed campgrounds are available along the Upper Kern operated by concessionaire. For those interested in less developed opportunities, there are dispersed camping areas with portable toilets and trash bins. Tables, water, and fire rings are not provided. Don’t forget your valid California Campfire Permit for campfires, barbecues, stoves and lanterns during fire season. Camping is not allowed within 25 feet from the water’s edge.

Whitewater Boating. Upper Kern is popular during the spring and summer months (late May through July). Water flows are dependent upon snow melt and natural run-off. This 21-mile stretch of river has four whitewater boating sections with varying degrees of difficulty.

Hiking. Be sure to pick a trail that matches your experience and ability. When hiking we suggest having the proper clothing, changes in the weather can happen rapidly. Wear good hiking boots and break them in before your hike! Always carry plenty of water, a first aid kit, map and food to meet your needs. Please remember to pack out what you pack in.

Fishing is a popular activity. A 3 day or 1 year California Fishing license is required and please know and follow California State Fish and Game regulations. Fishing is open year round along the Kern River. Live bait is allowed in the upper and lower sections and the limit is 5 trout per day/10 in possession. Above the Johnsondale Bridge special fishing restrictions apply, be sure to check local Fish and Game regulations.


Seasons Accessible

Year round

Nearby Places