Kern river / Lake Iabella

Discussion in 'California' started by Sarge, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge New Member

    Jan 22, 2018
    Monterey Park, California
    Has anyone stayed near the kern river or at Lake Isabella, if so can you please tell me a little about those places, we have never been there and are thinking of going up there, would like to tube and relax on the river if possible, Thank You for your input.
  2. Toolmaker13

    Toolmaker13 Member

    Aug 22, 2016
    I just got back a few weeks ago. We stayed at Frandy campground, it was nice and clean and the folks running the place were very nice and accommodating but more of an "in town" campground that I would not go back to just for that reason. There are some nice out of town camp sites that I seen along the river while we were river rafting. I will get on the computer tomorrow and get back to you.
  3. Mogimus

    Mogimus Active Member

    Apr 29, 2015
    Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    Yes and Yes... Lake Isabella/Kernville has been my go to place even before I had my pup.

    At the Lake, we have camped at Auxilary Dam Campground, South Fork Campground, & Paradise Cove Campground which are all dispersed (except for the actual sites at Paradise Cove). We like these spots because you can set up as close to the water as you want!!! But there is no shade whats so ever and does get pretty windy at Aux Dam. At the north side of the lake is Stine Cove which is much the same are Aux Dam. Dispersed, no shade, windy, but you can set up 10 feet from the waters edge. Think the fee is $10/night or you can get a year pass for $50 and camp as much as you want in these areas. Boulder Gulch to the west of the lake is closer to the highway than the lake, but it does have actual camping sites and trees... just gotta hike to the waters edge.

    At Auxilary Dam:

    Along the Kern, I've stayed at both Camp Three and Headquarters Campground. Both are just north of Kernville and both are dry camping with pit toilets and water spouts. These campgrounds, along with several others north and south of the lake, are right on the Kern River. Most of these areas do not have shade but there are a few spots that do. Great spots for fishing or just relaxing by the water. Couple words of caution though, the river is fast flowing and can be dangerous in certain areas. Last year was a good year (as far as water level) so they urged people to be very cautious or even stay out of the river but at both Headquarter and Three River Campgrounds, there was a nice calm area close to the edge for the kids to play in the cold water.

    At Headquarter Campground:
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    There is also a KOA & Camp Kernville in town and a couple private campgrounds by Kernville if you are looking for full hookups and other ammeneties.

    Check the weather before you go. It get HOT in the summer and I would advise that if you are planning on going up to the lake area, call the ranger station ahead of time and find out about current water conditions. As with some local lakes, the lake gets algae blooms and the water is less desirable to be in at certain spots.
  4. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

    Aug 1, 2014
    Thousand Oaks CA
    Excellent advice above. I have a cabin up above the lake (Alta Sierra/Greenhorn Mountains) and have been camping/hiking/fishing the area since the mid '80's.

    Lots of different things to do. Hiking, fishing, rock climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, even spelunking. The fish hatchery and museum (both free) are worthy of a look. There are some neat places farther up the river too- past Johnsondale if you like a little more tree cover and small creeks. Also some campgrounds up in the Greenhorn Mountains (20 min from lake) where it will be 20+ degrees cooler (6,000 ft) with heavy cedar/pine forest if you don't want to be right on the river or lake. Lots of dispersed camping along the river, from Kernville on up to the Johnsondale bridge.

    As mentioned, it is HOT in the summer, and the river IS dangerous. I wouldn't set foot in it if it's running over 300-350 cfs. Less than 200 would be better (mid to late summer). It's currently running at around 1175cfs. You can check Dreamflows ( for a daily river flow chart. The flow typically tapers off after Memorial Day, and by about the middle to end of June (depending on snowpack) it's safer to enter. You can also check with any of the rafting companies in town, the one near Frandy Park usually has e a whiteboard outside listing the flow.

    Any specific questions I would be happy to answer.
  5. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Santa Clarita, California
    Camped at Camp James and my site was by the river.... had a great time there.

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