National Monument Association

Kern River Canyon

The Upper Kern River is between Lake Isabella and the Johnsondale Bridge and is part of the North Fork of the Kern Wild and Scenic River. Fishing and whitewater boating are popular. Several developed campgrounds and day-use areas are along the river. Dispersed camping (outside of campgrounds) and campfires with permits are allowed in much of the area, but must be at least 25 feet from the river’s edge.

Below Lake Isabella, the Lower Kern River follows Highway 178 as it winds down the steep, narrow canyon on the way to Bakersfield. Whitewater boating is popular, and day use sites include launch and take-out areas. Developed day use areas provide picnic tables, restrooms, and fishing access. Old Kern Canyon Road winds and climbs along the southeast side of the river, providing access to a day use area and campgrounds.

Paddling the Kern River in a private watercraft requires an annual Kern River Use Permit, issued at forest offices. A Coast Guard approved personal flotation device?must be readily accessible, properly fit, and in good condition for each member of the party. Daily water flow information is available for the Kern River at (877) 537-6356 or (760) 376-8821.