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  • Writer's pictureKern River's Edge Team

Best spots to cool off near the Kern during high water

Updated: May 31, 2023

Wondering how to maximize your next Kern River camp out, with the best ways to stay cool, fun water activities for cooling off and some really cool natural wonders to explore when temps heat up? We’ve got recommendations for you!

We’ve laid out some insider tips and insights on how to beat the heat while visiting the Kern River during high water flows. Take a look below and don’t forget to bookmark this article for your next Summer camping trip to the Kern River.

Best ways to stay cool while camping at Kern River

Summer temps at the Kern River can range from 90's to low 100's so you will want to be prepared for some time in the sun and time in the Forest at higher elevations when camping near the Kern River. Our top 5 ways to beat the heat include:

Participating in water activities guided by the professionals

  1. Exploring the Greenhorn Mountains

  2. Visiting the Trail of 100 Giant sequoia tree

  3. A day-trip to Big Meadow

  4. Checking out Dome Rock

Water activities for cooling off, near Kern River?

There are many places to tuck in and wade or swim during low water seasons on the Kern River, you probably already have your favorites, but where can you cool off during high water flows when you can't go in the Kern River?

Here are some of our fav cooling off spots. Bring along a portable shade tent, sunscreen, lots of water for hydrating and remember to take breaks from the sun. If you forget to pack an essential, like sunscreen or sunglasses, no worries, pop in to our Camp Store, we probably have it!

Always remember to wear a life vest or PFD around bodies of water. High water season typically means that inner tubing Kern River will have to wait until around Labor Day, every year is different and it's hard to predict when you can tube the Kern, if at all.

  • Lake Isabella: French Gulch Marina offers jet-ski, pontoon boat, kayak and stand up paddle board rentals. Pack water and snacks and explore the lake's smaller islands that emerge during various lake levels. This option is ideal when we are having a high water season on the Kern River like we are this year.

  • Lake Isabella: Besides the marina there are many inlets around Lake Isabella where you can tuck in and cool off in the lake. Be sure to stay on designated dirt roads and watch for other vehicles. Camp 9 on Sierra Way charges a day use fee, but you can get close to the water for fishing, kayaking and water play. Be sure to bring your own shade, maintain trash at all times (wind) and observe where porta-potties are located so you don't have to scramble at the last minute!

  • Old Cemetery Area: During high water season this area where Kern River meets Lake Isabella is a handy spot to put-in with kayaks, stand up paddle boards or other non-motorized water craft. There are no amenities or restrooms here so be prepared with a portable-potty or go before you visit. Kern County Parks Department requires kayaks and sup's to have boat permits if over a certain length. From Burlando Road turn east on to Old Cemetery Road, between Kernville and Wofford Heights, and then turn right to drive down towards lake and dirt parking area.

  • Whitewater Rafting: When river flows allow, consider reserving a whitewater rafting tour with the three permitted outfitters such as Kern River Outfitters, Whitewater Voyages or Sierra South.

What are some quick, day-trips for exploring near the Kern River?

When it comes to beautiful scenery, fresh smelling pine and incense cedar forests and cooler temperatures, we recommend the following forest day-trips:

  • Greenhorn Mountains: Unal Trail is a locals favorite for hiking or mountain biking! Only a 20 minute drive from Kernville gets you into the Forest with ease. From Wofford Heights, turn up Evans Road. At the top of Evans Road/Hwy 155 turn left at the summit on to Rancheria Road, park near the Ranger Station and head up this 4.5 mile loop trail. Like to ride cyclo-cross? There are plenty of fire roads up here to explore such as Forest Highway 90 or Rancheria Road. Take snacks and water. We like to enjoy a beverage on the patio at the Greenhorn Grill in nearby Alta Sierra.

  • Trail of 100 Giants: Who needs Yosemite when you can touch, feel and smell a giant Sequoia without the big drive? Only 45 minutes north of Kernville, this is a must see and do natural wonder! Fill your tank, take water and snacks with you. Stop by the McNally's burger stand for a burger and shake on your way back to camp!

  • Big Meadow: There are 7 great trails to hike in the Big Meadow area. Take plenty of water and pack a picnic lunch. Beautiful trails, scenery, flowers, and cooler temps! This is a scenic drive with vistas and creeks along the way. About a 70 minute drive from Kernville.

  • Dome Rock: Massive granite boulder, beautiful vistas, excellent photo opportunities! Fill your tank, take water and snacks with you. Stop in at the Ponderosa Lodge for a burger along the way. About a 90 minute drive from Kernville.

If you need help finding any of these locations, reach out to us online or leave a comment below. We have a locally sourced map of the area that we sell in our Camp Store. Be sure to ask us about the map which is lightly laminated, has gps coordinates, and lots of local beta.


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.

Ready to go camping on the Kern River?

Then let’s go! At Kern River’s Edge, you’ll find spacious campsites, concierge firewood, ice deliveries, and the best cooling off spots on the Kern River. With over 40 camping sites to choose from and easy access to all types of activities — including fishing —, there’s something for everyone at the River’s Edge campsite.

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