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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Halstead

11 really fun things to do at Kern River

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Looking for some fun things to do at Kern River during one of your next day trips or an upcoming 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.

What are some fun things to do at Kern River?

  1. White Water Rafting: This is typically a great choice between April and August; and you might be able to stretch this through the month of September, if the Southern Sierra snowpack is significant. If you’re new to rafting, 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.

  2. Hiking, Mountain Biking, or Rock Climbing: The scenery around Kern River is gorgeous, with hidden waterfalls and flower fields popping up new wildflower species in every season. The Trail of 100 giant sequoias is close by too. To find a trail near you, visit Kern River Sierra where you can also get info on biking and rock climbing.

  3. Paddleboarding or tubing: If you’re looking for another water sport, you could always rent a paddleboard or kayak; or take a lesson on the Kern River or Lake Isabella. During lower water season, tubing is super fun on the Kern, or use a tube to float on Lake Isabella. It’s a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

  4. Hunting: If you’re into hunting, things to do at Kern River can include deer, quail, duck, squirrel, rabbit, and coyote hunting.

  5. Hot Springs: Everyone has to visit the hot springs at least once in their life. The Remington and Miracle Hot Springs are absolutely stunning, quite relaxing, and relatively easy to get to.

  6. Birdwatching: 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, birdwatching is an ideal thing to do at Kern River and on Lake Isabella, you never know what you’re going to see.

  7. Kern River Valley Museum: There’s a lot to see and learn at the Kern River Valley Museum — from the history of mining and ranching to the Tubatulabal Tribe and Hollywood movies.

  8. Kern River Brewing Company: If you’re headed up to Kern River for a day trip or want to take a break from camp food, KRBC is the perfect spot. There’s lots of good food, music, brews, and views at the Kern River Brewing Company.

  9. Camping: Of course Kern River is packed full of beautiful, fully developed campgrounds. Book a campsite online and fill your trip with plenty of fishing and swimming.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.


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.

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.

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