8 Awesome Things to Do on California’s Kern River

8 Awesome Things to Do on California’s Kern River

Looking for a great place to visit where you can really get a feel for the California landscape? Then check out the Kern River. The Kern River starts in the mountains near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park and empties into Isabella Lake at the southern tip of the park near Kernville, CA. Full of adventures and outdoor fun, there are plenty of things to do on a day trip or a week-long vacation. No matter how long you visit, make the most of your trip by doing the following things:

8. Hike and Drive Along the River

Where’s the best place to get views of the river and Sequoia National Park? How about a little exercise? Follow the Kern! Start at the southern end, near Isabella Lake. Drive around the lake on 178, 155, and Sierra Way. Then, meet up with Mountain Highway 99 and drive along the river for around 18 miles. Next, you have a choice. You can start hoofing it for a few miles, or you can stay on 99 until it meets up with Forest Route 22S82. You’ll depart from the river for a while, but you’ll meet again. That is, until you hit mountains. From there, hiking is the best way to stay close. Casual hikers won’t be able to follow the river all the way to its origins in Kings Canyon National Park. Just go as far as is enjoyable, and you can’t go wrong!

Kern River

7. White Water Tubing

Caution: this activity is not for the faint of heart, so tube at your own risk! There are several places with calm enough rapids to (relatively) safely tube, but my favorite is about a mile up river from Limestone Campground, where highway 99 crosses the Kern. You’ll need someone to drive you to the drop-off point – a parking lot at South Creek – and pick you up at Limestone Campground, unless you want to take a 20 minute walk. Take your tube down the small path and carefully lower yourself into the water at the bottom. Paddle into the current and enjoy! When you meet the rapids (there are several along the way), raise your feet and head, tuck your butt in, and hold on! If possible, go with a friend who knows the best path through. Nerves of steel and a helmet are a good idea, too.

rapids kern river
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