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Kern River Camping, Part 1: Roughing It

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!

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