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Kern River California - River Trips for Kayaking & Canoeing Kern River
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site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: California River Trips  :: Kern River California

Kayaking & Canoeing Kern River California

Forks of the Kern
 photos of Forks of the Kern
Put-in:  Little Kern Confluence
Take-out:  Johnsondale Bridge
Difficulty:  Class V
Length:  17 miles
Upper Kern - Limestone Run
 photos of Upper Kern - Limestone Run
Put-in:  Johnsondale Bridge
Take-out:  Fairview Dam
Difficulty:  Class IV < 4000 cfs Class IV+ > 4000 cfs
Length:  2.4 miles
Tributary-Brush Creek
 photos of Tributary-Brush Creek  videos of Tributary-Brush Creek
Put-in:  Brush Creek Heliport
Take-out:  Mountain Road 99
Difficulty:  Class V
Length:  1.2 miles
Upper kern - Fairview Run
Put-in:  Fairview Dam
Take-out:  Calkins Flat Primitive Camping Area
Difficulty:  Class III
Length:  2.4 miles
Upper Kern - Chamise Gorge
Put-in:  Calkins Flat Primitive Camping Area
Take-out:  Salmon Creek Falls turnout
Difficulty:  Class IV+
Length:  2.1 miles
Upper Kern - Thunder Run
 photos of Upper Kern - Thunder Run
Put-in:  Ant Canyon
Take-out:  Camp 3 Campground
Difficulty:  Class V
Length:  6.3 miles
Upper Kern - Camp 3 Run
 photos of Upper Kern - Camp 3 Run
Put-in:  Camp 3 Campground
Take-out:  Powerhouse
Difficulty:  Class IV
Length:  2.4 miles
Upper Kern - Powerhouse Run
 photos of Upper Kern - Powerhouse Run
Put-in:  Powerhouse
Take-out:  Riverside Park in Kernville
Difficulty:  Class III-
Length:  2 miles
Lower Kern
 photos of Lower Kern
Put-in:  Below Main Dam Campground
Take-out:  Democrat Picnic Area
Difficulty:  Class IV (P)
Length:  18 miles (can be made shorter)


The Kern is one of the oldest rivers in California, established nearly 80 million years ago when Sierra was a volcanic range. It is the largest watershed in this region, and often runs until early July, fed by the high mountain snowmelt. Sections of it were added to the National Scenic and Wild Rivers System in 1987. It is also known as one of the most dangerous rivers in the state and the Spanish named it Rio Bravo because it was so difficult to cross.

Whitewater boaters will enjoy the diversity of runs offered, with everything from easy sections (like the Powerhouse run on the Upper Kern), to the beautiful wilderness section called the Forks of the Kern, which offers stunning alpine scenery and thunderous rapids, making it one of California’s best stretches of white water. This 17-mile section includes many Class IVs and Vs and should only be attempted by advanced boaters.

Farther down river, the 2.4-mile Limestone run is another favorite for expert boaters because of the strong rapids and interesting scenery, featuring large limestones along the granite walls of the gorge.

There are many other short stretches of river accessible from the road that can be run multiple times in a day or continuously for solid Class V boaters.

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Kern River California - River Trips for Kayaking & Canoeing Kern River
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