What to know when making Kern River camping reservations
Updated: Sep 18
If you're looking to spend some time camping in the Kern River area, it's important to familiarize yourself with when, where, and how to make reservations.
Let’s discuss some details you’ll need to understand about making Kern River camping reservations before you solidify your camping plans.
How early should you book a Kern River camping reservation?
When it comes to booking a camping reservation, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best time to book will vary depending on the campground, the season, and your personal preferences. However, as a general rule of thumb, it's always best to book as early as possible. This will give you the widest range of choices and the best chance of getting your preferred campsite.
For popular Kern River campgrounds during peak season (or holidays), you may need to book several months in advance — even as early as 6-12 months in advance.
For less popular campgrounds or during off-peak times, you may be able to get away with booking a few weeks in advance. But at this point, you’re playing a dangerous game and may end up with no options.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is to research the campground you're interested in and plan accordingly. With a little advance planning, you're sure to have a great camping trip.
Pro Tip: Private campgrounds (like Kern River’s Edge) open up campsites a full 12-months in advance. This makes it much easier to plan large get-togethers like family reunions or weddings.
Related Content: Is Kern River dangerous and can you swim in it?
When is it the hardest time of year to book a campsite?
The busiest times for camping at the Kern River are typically during summer and holidays, when families have more time off from school and work. Likewise, popular camping spots often fill up quickly during these times. If you're hoping to snag a campsite during the summer or a holiday weekend, it's best to make a reservation well in advance. This way, you'll be more likely to get the spot you want and won't have to worry about being turned away when you arrive. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, so it's always worth checking for last-minute openings (even if it is during the busiest times of year).
Related Content: Is Kern River open and for how long?
Do all campgrounds require reservations?
There are many different types of campgrounds to choose from. Some campgrounds are open to the general public, while others require reservations. Reservable campgrounds may be run by the government or by private organizations. They typically have a limited number of sites available, and these sites must be reserved in advance. Some campgrounds allow reservations for all nights of the week, while others may only require them for weekends or holidays.
When making a reservation, you will need to provide basic information such as your name, the dates you wish to stay, and the number of people in your party. You may also need to pay a fee at the time of reservation.
Campgrounds that do not require reservations are typically first-come, first-serve. This means that you can arrive and set up camp without making any prior arrangements. However, these campgrounds can fill up quickly during peak times, so it is always best to arrive early.
It’s also important to remember that free campgrounds may not have a Camp Host on-site and typically do not have as many activities or amenities as paid ones offer. So make sure you do research and understand what you’re getting into before heading out to a campsite.
Ready to go camping on the Kern River? Learn how to fish the river properly!
Recreating responsibly includes packing trash bags to leave our wild spaces cleaner than you found them. There is a glass ban in the Sequoia National Forest, so remember to use plastic storage containers, ziploc bags, or bota bags for camping gear and kitchen supplies instead of glass. Practice Leave No Trace principles and pack out what you pack in. See more Kern River camping tips.