A Forest Service Permit is required to run the Lower Kern River. The Forest Service office is located in Kernville on Whitney Road. There are several other Sequoia National Forest offices. Permits are free for the Lower Kern sections.

Overnight Trips

Camping is easy along the Lower Kern River. Car camping is plentiful between the two sections, and you can even camp at hotsprings. Beware that the crowds that frequent the hotsprings are not always entirely plesant. You may want to make a reservation at one of the many campsites in advance to secure your spot and avoid driving around. Kernville and nearby Lake Isabella have plenty of options for hotels if you’d rather go that route.

Insider Tip

There are beautiful riverside hotsprings right along the Lower Kern River. During the weekends, a more eclectic crowd hangs out there, but if you get to experience them midweek, they are the perfect ending to a day on the river.


There are no specific shuttle services on the Kern River, however it is incredibly easy to shuttle your own vehicle and parking is plentiful.


  • Put-in: Below Lake Isabella
    For about 7 more miles of Class III whitewater, you can put-in just below Lake Isabella, although that section tends to have more brush and debris.
  • Put-in: Miracle Hot Springs
    From Bakersfield, take Highway 178 east. 4 miles before you get to Lake Isabella, take a right on Borel Road to Old Canyon Road. Go right. Go 2 miles downriver to Miracle Hot Springs. These are actually really nice hotsprings (although sometimes they are crowded). There is plenty of parking as well as portable bathrooms. There are numerous other put-in options, including Hobo Campground and Sandy Flat Campground which are both a couple miles upstream.
  • Take-out: Democrat Beach
    Democrat is right off highway 178 as you’re heading east from Bakersfield, before you reach Lake Isabella. Follow signs to Democrat Hot Springs. Parking is plentiful.
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