Looking for some really fun water activities to do at Kern River during your July and August camping trip? Well, you’re in luck. When it comes to ‘what to do in Kern River’, there are plenty of hidden gems to pick from — including river rafting, camping, fly fishing, mountain biking, and more.
Let’s break down some of our favorite things to do at Kern River and give you a few tips and tricks along the way.
Where is the Kern River?
First things first, where is the Kern River? The Kern River is a long river located in California, closest to places like Kernville, Lake Isabella, and Bakersfield. It is over 160 miles long and travels through Tulare and Kern counties in the Sequoia National Forest.
Related Content: Everything you should know about camping on the Kern River
When is the best time to go to the Kern River?
There are a variety of activities and things to do at Kern River — but what most people don’t realize is that these activities can be done nearly year-round. Given the high desert temperatures around the Kern River, the majority of spring, summer, and even fall are great for camping, fishing, swimming, floating, biking and rafting. Even during the wintertime, our temps are mild, creating a perfect off-season setting to fish, bike, and ski without crowds.
Pro-Tip: Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD), also known as a life jacket or life vest, when near bodies of water such as lakes, large creeks and rivers. Low water season on the Kern River typically refers to the time period when professional rafting companies have stopped offering rafting tours on that section of the Kern. While high water season refers to large volumes of water, moving swiftly down the Kern River drainage.
What are some fun water-focused things to do at Kern River?
White Water Rafting: This is typically a great choice between April and August; and on high water seasons can be offered through October, when the Southern Sierra snow pack is significant. Seek out an experienced, permitted company such as Kern River Outfitters, Sierra South or Whitewater Voyages that offers rafting tours, high-floatation gear and equipment.
Hiking, Mountain Biking, or Rock Climbing: The scenery around Kern River is gorgeous, with hidden waterfalls, creeks, streams and flower fields popping up new wildflower species in every season. Pause @ South Creek Falls on your way to the Trail of 100 giant sequoias for some great photo ops. Or, to find a trail near you, visit Kern River Sierra where you can also get info on biking and rock climbing.
Paddle boarding or tubing: If you are looking for another water sport, you could always rent a paddle board or kayak on Lake Isabella. During high water season, tubing, kayaking and paddle boarding Lake Isabella in one of the many inlets is fun for the whole family! Lower water season is an ideal tubing time on the Kern. It’s a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
Hot Springs: Everyone has to visit the hot springs at least once in their life. The Remington and Remington Hot Springs are absolutely stunning, quite relaxing, and relatively easy to get to.
Bird Watching: Kern River is an interesting place to visit for many reasons, including the fact that it is the intersection of five different bio-regions. Because of this, bird watching is an ideal thing to do near Kern River and on Lake Isabella, you never know what you’re going to see.
Kern River Valley Museum: There’s a lot to see and learn at the Kern River Valley Museum — from the history of whitewater, the development of Lake Isabella and it's importance for water in California.
Kern River Brewing Company: If you need a break from camp food, pop into KRBC for lunch or dinner. KRBC's whitewater connection begins with it's kayaking owners and ends with locally sourced ingredients, the Kern River and beers named for local recreation features. Stop in for a pint and great views of Lake Isabella.
7 Teacups: The 7 Teacups is a series of cascading waterfalls and gorgeous granite pools. Hire a professional guide service or go with a canyoneering group; this activity requires proper equipment and skill in canyoneering.
Alder Creek Slabs: The Alder Creek Slabs are natural water slides that lead into a larger pool of Spring water. It’s mellow enough for small ones and fun enough for the entire family. Bring a tube with you for double the fun. Check road access to ensure Lloyd Meadow Road is open for the season before you go!
Plan to enjoy the 4th of July Fireworks Show on Saturday, July 1, 2023 from your closest lakeside viewing point. Some of our favorite viewing spots are from Camp 9 or one of the turnouts along Sierra Way above Camp 9. Arrive before dark, bring your camp chair, some snacks and wait to be delighted by our local fireworks show. Show starts at dark.
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.
Related Content: Driving directions to Kern River and Kernville
Ready for fun activities and things to do at Kern River?
Then let’s go! At Kern River’s Edge, you’ll find the best campground at Kern River. Plus, 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.