Phone 1-800-573-7238 Email:

We get a lot of the same questions when people call to book whitewater rafting trips or inquire about the Kern River Valley. One question that we get the most is, “What else is there to do beside rafting?” It’s extremely difficult to quickly answer that question since this valley is so incredibly diverse in recreation. So we decided to lay it all out for you! The long answer (or at least resources to the long answer):


Since we are located at the southern tip of the Sierra Nevadas the hiking here is endless. Go waterfall hunting, find swimming holes or if the time is right you’ll be in fields of wildflowers before you know it. Drive up river to higher elevation and cooler temps to check out the Trail of 100 Giants. There are multiple resources to help you discover what the best hiking trail is for you and your group. Have you been hiking in the Kern area? What is your favorite trail?


Purchase a map of the area created by some rad local adventurers:

Mountain Biking

There’s a lot of biking to be had around here but for this purpose we’ll stick with mountain biking. With dramatic elevation changes throughout the valley and views of Lake Isabella from all directions our mountain bike trails are some of the best in the west. A few popular local downhill single tracks are Just Outstanding, the Cannell Plunge and Keysville Classic. Here are some resources to help plan your mountain bike ride.



There is fly fishing galore when the Kern River is at the right flow! Fish from the shores or from your boat while cruising Lake Isabella. Our waters are stocked by the local fish hatchery, aslo something to go do (especially for the kiddos), see their museum and get a tour of their process.

Guy Jeans Fly shop offers a variety of courses and fishing trips, located in Kernville.

Get your license:

Lake Isabella Recreation

Looking for some flat water fun after an exciting whitewater rafting experience? Lake Isabella is perfect and our friends at Sierra South will help you out with SUP and Kayak rentals.

If you are a wind chasing kiter here is a link with all the info you need to include kiteboarding in your vacation plans.


While it definitely gets too hot to climb at most of the local, practically in town crags, this doesn’t mean you can’t find epic climbing relatively close.

Sport and Trad:

The Needles 

Buy the new Needles guidebook

Dome Rock

If the weather is on the cooler side, a couple of the best local sport/trad areas are the Kern Slabs and New Directions

Buy a local guidebook:


There are a few opportunities to practice yoga at Co-Work and the Riverside Park in Kernville! 

Yoga with Kate– Mondays and Wednesdays

Yoga with Geneva and The Outside Way– Tuesdays and Thursdays 






Enjoy your time in this beautiful land. And don’t forget to take care of the our precious outdoors, leave any area you use better than you found it. Together we can keep our public lands public and garbage free!

Photos by Black Owl Media

And they love our food!

Our Two-Day trip is fun for the whole family and includes four full meals, Kern River camping on our private sandy beach, two full days of whitewater rafting class II-IV (beginner to intermediate) and two jump rocks. This highly desired trip offers an experience you will never forget. Click HERE to book your trip now!

Here’s an awesome highlight video of our Two-Day trip on the lower Kern River from the perspective of Ericsur6, one of our customers, who seemed to really enjoy everything about it, especially the food 

Thanks Eric! Hope we’ll get to take you again sometime.

Want a full day of rafting and a hearty deli style lunch?

Join us on the one-day upper. This trip covers the best rapids available. Must be 12 years old.

Sunday May 13th – Buy one get one half off

If you book online use discount code: KRTmoms
Or call (800) 573-7238 and mention this email to get your discount




Last weekend Kern River Tours participated in the Mini Me Race sponsored by Hyside during the 53rd annual Kern River Festival. This race involved paddling, chugging, a lot of running and even some corn hole. We had high hopes that this strong team would win. Well, we didn’t but we did have a blast! The whole festival was so much fun with good food, music and a warm family atmosphere. Photos by: Jon Naugle

While rafting is fun, Kern River camping definitely adds to your outdoor experience. There are many places to camp in and around Kernville and we want to help you plan your perfect weekend adventure, with or without the kids.

Roughing It 

Are you the traditional camping type? We call that “roughing it” these days. Not sure if this is you? Can you go days without taking a shower, you’ve mastered the birdbath and you understand that sometimes you have to dig a hole to do your business? These are perfect campgrounds for you (maybe even a little too glamorous)!

Keysville, first come/first served

  • Location: On the lower Kern River right below the dam, 20 minutes south of Kernville, 11 minutes to Lake Isabella
  • Type of land: BLM
  • Facilities: Vault toilet- limited, NO WATER
  • Cost: FREE! Dispersed non designated campsites
  • RV/Trailer parking: Yes, limited
  • Dogs okay? Yes, please pickup after your pet!


Headquarters Campground, takes reservations

  • Type of land: Forest Service
  • Location: On the upper Kern River, 7 minutes north of Kernville, 25 minutes to Lake Isabella
  • Facilities: Drinking water, vault toilet, campfire rings
  • Cost: 6 people/site, starts at $28/night
  • RV/Trailer parking: Yes, 30ft no hookups
  • Dogs okay? Yes, please pickup after your pet!


Camp Three Campground, takes reservations

  • Type of land: Forest Service
  • Location: On the upper Kern River, 8 minutes north of Kernville, 26 minutes to Lake Isabella
  • Facilities: Drinking water, vault toilets, campfire rings
  • Cost: 6 people/site, starts at $28/night, offers group camp for 30 people
  • RV/Trailer parking: Does not specify, max length vehicle 40ft-back-in
  • Dogs okay? Yes, please pickup after your pet!


Thunderbird Group Campground, takes reservations

  • Type of land: Forest Service
  • Location: On the upper Kern River, 9 minutes north of Kernville, 27 minutes to Lake Isabella
  • Facilities: Portable toilets, campfire rings, NO WATER
  • Cost: 12-30 people starts at $40/night
  • Dogs okay? Yes, please pickup after your pet!


Chico Flat Campground, first come/first served

  • Type of land: Forest Service
  • Location: On the upper Kern River, 10 minutes north of Kernville, 28 minutes to Lake Isabella
  • Facilities: Seasonal portable toilets, fire permits required, NO WATER
  • Cost: FREE! Disperesed campsites
  • Dogs Okay? Yes, please pickup after your pet!


Camp with us!

The best campground around is included in our overnight rafting package. Spend two full days of rafting the lower Kern River and let us take care of the rest. End your first day of rafting by winding down at our private sandy beach campground, eat a huge dinner prepared by your raft guides and tell stories around the campfire. You really only need a toothbrush, sleeping bag and dry clothes to make this trip comfortable. We provide everything else you might need! Call us for more information or click HERE.

  • Type of land: Private
  • Location: On the lower Kern River
  • Facilities: Portable toilets, water provided
  • Cost: See our 2 Day Lower Kern options
  • Dogs Okay? No


Pack it in-pack it out

We have some awesome local volunteer organizations such as Kern River Conservancy and Keepers of the Kern that try to keep up with all of the trash left behind by visitors but they can only handle so much. Most of the campgrounds listed above provide a dumpster for your garbage. Please be sure to bring trash bags to keep your area clean. The best practice is to pack out what you bring if possible- especially if no dumpster is available or overflowing. Be respectful to the local wildlife and river, always leave your area cleaner than you found it. Thank you!


For more information regarding camping rules/regulations/restrictions please visit the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.

Do you have a favorite dry campground in or around Kernville? We’d love to hear from you!

Our guide school is this weekend so it got us thinking, why be a river guide anyway? We came up with handful reasons to guide whitewater but they could apply to going on a rafting trip in general too. Being on the water is ultimate during the summer and there are so many ways to enjoy the beautiful Kern River.

1. Outdoor Adventure
How many jobs in the world allow you to be outside and on the water having fun all day? Not only are you fulfilling your quest for freedom and adrenaline you get to share these once in a lifetime river experiences with customers that probably sit in an office all day for work. You are their adventurous summer vacation! How cool is that?

2. Seasonal Work
Change is good! Work with the seasons, change it up and keep it interesting. There is the potential to chase rivers all year round or you could change up your job specialty with the weather. The perfect summer job while not in school (only have to be 16 to guide), give that studying a break, give yourself some much deserved outdoor time. The possibilities for seasonal work are endless if you’re stoked to travel and try new things!

3. Calling all Adrenaline Junkies
The river moves fast, there are obstacles and many variables. If you talk to any raft guide they will love to tell you at least one story of a wild experience they’ve had on the water with or without customers. The river can be unpredictable when you are taking people for their first time….customers themselves can be unpredictable! You really never know what kind of day you will have on the river but no matter what it will be fun, full of adrenaline and definitely memorable.

4. Get Paid to Camp
Get paid to camp, get paid to go on adventures! Kern River Tours offers a couple different overnight trips. Our most popular is on the lower Kern that starts with mellow class II-III the first day, camping on a private riverside beach then stepping it up to a full day of class IV rapids the next day. As a guide you enjoy this full experience as well but you’re getting paid!

5. Family
This is not your average family. The river family is like no other. You meet new friends, long lost brothers from another mother and form life long connections. The river creates bonds in a way that you might not find anywhere else. Looking for your tribe? The river is calling.

Does this sound like the perfect summer job or what? We’d like to hear from you! Maybe instead of guiding customers you’d like to take a guided trip down the Kern River, either way we’d love to share these experiences with you.

Are you already a guide? What can we add to this list? What keeps you coming back for more or got you guiding in the first place? We want to hear from you too!

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