Kern River Whitewater
"Upper Kern Run"

Information & Maps provided by US Forest Service / Department of Agriculture

Kern Wild and Scenic River
Sequoia National Forest

An easy drive from Southern California metropolitan areas is a trip to the Kern River. Designated by Congress in 1987, as part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. This popular section of the Kern River is continuous, exhilarating whitewater with boulder gardens, pounding rapids and gradients exceeding 30 feet per mile.

UPPER KERN RUN MAP & LOCATION:The Upper Kern Run begins at the Johnsondale Bridge and travels south to Riverkern Beach. This 21-mile stretch of river has four sections of raftable whitewater with varying degrees of difficulty.

Location: Northernmost run begins 21 miles north of Kernville at the Johnsondale Bridge
Put In: Johnsondale Bridge or Brush Creek
Take Out: Above Fairview Dam at Willow Point
Class: III & IV (Medium to Difficult), varies according to water level
Run Length: 2.7 miles

Location: Begins 17 miles north of Kernville off Mtn. Hwy. 99
Put In: North of Roads End Resort
Take Out: Calkins Flat or Salmon Creek
Class: III & IV (Medium to Difficult), varies according to water level
Run Length: 4.8 miles

Location: Begins 10 miles north of Kernville off Mtn. Hwy. 99
Put In: North of Goldledge Campground at Ant Canyon Dispersed Area
Take Out: Riverkern Beach
Class: III, IV & V (Medium to Expert), varies according to water level
Run Length: 10 miles

Location: Begins 5 miles north of Kernville off Mtn. Hwy. 99
Put In: Chico Flat or South of Camp 3 Campground
Take Out: Riverkern Beach
Class: II, III & IV (Easy to Difficult), varies according to water level
Run Length: 3.5 miles

PERMIT REQUIREMENTS: This is an annual permit good for the entire year. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis and are free of charge. A permit is required for EACH craft. Group size can't exceed 18 people on the river at one time.

To obtain a permit, fill out an application IN PERSON at Forest Service offices in Lake Isabella, Kernville or Bakersfield. Applications will not be mailed out or left in office drop boxes. Upon completion of your application, a water proof permit may be issued.

A permit is not required from Riverkern Beach south to Riverside Park in Kernville.

RIVER USE MANIFEST: Each day, a completed manifest must be left at a designated drop off point for the specific river run prior to your launch. Manifests are available at each Forest Service office and at designated drop off boxes in the field. The maximum party size for each manifest is 18 people for the Upper Kern River ONLY. More than one permit number may appear on a manifest as long as the number of passengers does not exceed the 18 person limit.

If new passengers are added to your trip during the day, a new river use manifest must be completed and left at a designated drop off point, prior to the next launch.

Locations for manifest drop off boxes.
Lake Isabella Office, Kern River District Office/Kernville, and
all put-in's north of Kernville to the Johnsondale Bridge.

SEASON AND WATER FLOW: Late spring and summer are recommended for whitewater boating the Upper Kern (May to July). Water flows are dependent on snow melt and natural runoff. Spring flows may reach as high as 6,000 cfs. Daily waterflow information is available from Lake Isabella Visitor Center at (760) 379-5646, the Kern River Ranger District at (760) 376-3781 or Canyon Connection / Weather.

RECOMMENDED SAFETY EQUIPMENT: A Coast Guard approved personal flotation device must be readily accessible, properly fit, and in good condition, for each member of the party. Each raft should have an extra oar or paddle, a 50 foot throwline with bag and a 16 foot mooring line.



Lake Isabella Visitor Center
4875 Ponderosa Drive
Lake Isabella, CA 93240
(760) 379-5646
Kern River Ranger District
105 Whitney Road
Kernville, CA 93238
(760) 376-3781

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs and marital or familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact the USDA Office of Communication at (202) 720-5881 (voice) or (202) 720-7808 (TDD).
To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., 20250, or call (202) 720-7327 (voice) or (202) 720-1127 (TDD). USDA is an equal employment opportunity employer.

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