Everything you should know about camping on the Kern River
Updated: Sep 30
Are you about to go camping on the Kern River? If so, there are a few things to keep in mind when camping near Kern River.
Kern River is a great spot to go camping. It’s close to the town of Kernville and Lake Isabella and offers a wide variety of recreational activities.
To help you have a better overall experience camping on the Kern River, we’ve laid out 6 best practices and tips to remember — straight from the minds of Kern River camping experts.
Stay cool and visit ‘Lake Isabella’
The Kern River is technically considered high desert. Because of this, the location can get very hot, especially in the late afternoons, and it’s important to keep cool during a camping trip.
Our developed Kern River campsite, Kern River’s Edge, is located about 7 miles from a popular spot known as ‘Camp 9’ a forest service run recreation and boat launch area. This spot is perfect for day-use swimming (especially for kiddos), and it’s also great for fishing. From camp, pack your easy-up, chairs, ice chest & sunscreen and you are ready for a lake day to cool off!
Pro Tip: Bring a canopy or portable shade with you, go easy on the alcohol, drink lots of water, and get plenty of sleep. Plan fun, higher elevation, side-trips during the heat of the afternoon!
Leave no trace
It’s important to always practice Leave No Trace principles — not only to protect the wildlife but to protect yourself, too. Pack plenty of trash bags for your Kern River camping trip and keep all trash contained inside them. Every night, make sure all trash is placed in a dumpster or strung up in a tree. This will help keep bears away (which is always a good thing). Check for 'glass bans' at the campground or in the area and pack your food and drinks in plastic, Ziploc or other non-glass container.
Related Content: 11 really fun things to do at Kern River
Be mindful of critters and pests
Speaking of wildlife, there are plenty of skunks, snakes, racoons, and other little critters running around. They are all attracted to the smell of your trash. Again, make sure it goes in the dumpster or up in a tree — tightly contained, every night before bed time. At the same time, you’ll also want to use locally-sourced firewood. This will keep new and invasive pests far from camping areas on the Kern River.
Related Content: 8 ways to stay Active and Cool on the Kern this Summer
Use an ice block — not bagged ice
When camping on the Kern River, the best way to keep your food cooler for longer is with an ice block (as opposed to bags of ice). We recommend wrapping and tying the ice block in one clean trash bag and then double-wrapping with a second clean trash bag, then place block in your ice chest with your food. Keep your drink cooler separate from your food cooler and your ice block will last longer.
Pro Tip: Bring reusable water bottles and 1- or 5-gallon water jugs (rather than individual water bottles). This will help you reduce waste.
Build a wash station
To build a wash station, bring a refillable water dispenser and a 1 or 2 gallon jug of water. Set it up on top of a table or on top of some bins and use a bungee cord to attach paper towels to the water dispenser. With biodegradable soap, you can use this area to wash hands and dishes.
Pro Tip: Pack reusable dishes (as opposed to paper plates and cups). Again, this will cut back on waste. You can use an empty tub to store all your dishes for future use.
Protect yourself from the sun
As we mentioned earlier, camping on the Kern River can get very hot at times. Here are a few quick tips to keep you hydrated and safe:
Pack plenty of drinking water (gallon jugs, rather than individual bottles) and avoid too much alcohol
Bring at least one bottle of sunscreen along for the journey and reapply a few times a day
Wear sunglasses and hats as often as possible (consider getting glasses and hats with straps); wear light-colored clothing
Shower at night, rather than in the morning (this will keep you nice and cool for bed)
Pack an easy-up portable shade canopy to create shade wherever you need it
Ready to go camping on the Kern River?
Then let’s go! At Kern River’s Edge, you’ll find spacious campsites, concierge firewood and ice deliveries, and the best camping on the Kern River. With over 40 sites to choose from and easy access to fishing, swimming, and sandy activities, there’s something for everyone at the River’s Edge campsite.