10 Best Kernville Campgrounds and RV Parks in 2024

10 Best Kernville Campgrounds and RV Parks in 2024

Dec 28, 2023

Do you want to camp along the Kern River the Kern River? If so, a few tips exist before you go close to Kern River.

The Kern River is a fantastic location for camping. It provides many recreational opportunities and is near Lake Isabella and the town of Kernville.

Straight from the brains of Kern River camping experts, we've outlined best practices and ideas to keep in mind to help you have a better overall camping experience on the river. 

Kernville Campgrounds and RV Parks

The summer months of June through September are the greatest for camping at Kern River. In early June, be cautious of the high/rushing water levels of the Kern River if there was a lot of snowfall that year.

It is indeed the "Killer Kern," as they put it!

How to Locate Kernville Campgrounds

In the middle of Kernville, on the Kern River, is where you'll find Camp Kernville.  With your toes in the sand and the hustle and bustle of city life far away, our spot gives you an unmatched camping experience. You can walk to their restaurants, shops, and other parks.

We've got you covered, and you've come to the best place if you're looking for family-friendly hiking, fishing, swimming, relaxing on the beach, and BBQing with friends or a more adrenaline-fueled adventure like whitewater rafting, kayaking, SUPing, mountain biking, rock climbing, and/or bouldering.

All these things are there in the campground or in a few minutes of your entry.

READ ALSO: The Best Shawano Campgrounds

10 Best Kernville Campgrounds and RV Parks

The Kern River region is renowned for having an abundance of fantastic campgrounds. This top 10 campgrounds on the Kern River have been selected by us to give you a wonderful tour. Check it out!

1. Camp James Campground

Camp James Campground

All year long, Camp James has cabins, tent sites, and RV camping.  There are campsites just beside the Kern River.  There are roughly 71 RV camping spaces in the site. 

Especially for RVs, it's one of the better campgrounds there.  Complete hookups are there, too.  There are trees at the campsites.  Every location features a fire ring and picnic table. 

The showers and restrooms are clean.  A nice camp store with an ATM, firewood, and ice is available.  The campground is only a short walk to the town.  Access to the campground is through the security gates.  

Some Kernville and the Sequoia National Forest events include road touring and sightseeing.  The Sierra Way immediately approaches the national forest.

Lake Isabella fishing and boating.  The California drought has caused lake levels to drop, but fishing is good.  It is not good to do water skiing because of all the trees in the water.  

The campground is only a few kilometers from Kernville and the Kern River.  In Kernville, fly fishing, tubing, and rafting are all quite popular.  In town, there are many things for outfitters.  

The middle of summer is the best time to go rafting.  In Kernville, fly fishing guides are there, too.  Additionally, Kernville features a number of food joints and gift shops.

2. Camp Kernville

Camp Kernville

from the intersection of Sierra Highway and Kernville Road in Kernville.  Take Kernville Road westward. 

The road crosses the Kern River bridge after a few blocks.  Turn right into Sirretta Street on the other side of the bridge.  A block up on the right side will be the entrance to the campground.  

From the intersection of Sierra Highway and Kernville Road in Kernville.  Take Kernville Road westward.  The road crosses the Kern River bridge after a few blocks. 

Turn right into Sirretta Street on the other side of the bridge.  A block up on the right side will be the entrance to the campground. 

READ ALSO: Sawmill Campgrounds and Nearby Campsites

3. Fairview Campground

Fairview Campground

The Sequoia National Forest, located in central California's Sierra Nevada, gets its name from the big sequoia, the world's tallest tree, that grows in over 30 groves on the Forest's lower slopes.

The Forest is approximately 1.1 million acres in size, with elevations ranging from 1,000 to 12,000 feet, resulting in steep canyons and mountain streams with beautiful waterfalls, including Salmon Creek Falls and Grizzly Falls.

Gray pines, scrub oaks, grass, and dry climate shrubs hang to steep canyon walls along the river, while cottonwoods and willows along the water. 

The park, 13 miles north, has 54 asphalt campsites organized into three loops. Some sites feature views of the river or direct access to it. Picnic tables, toilets, and clean drinking water are available.

A restaurant is located near the campground. Rocky Mountain Recreation Company (RMRC), a branch of ExplorUS, operates this site, and opinions are encouraged; comment forms are there for campground hosts or directly from Rocky Mountain Recreation Company.

Whitewater rafting and kayaking are some things on the Upper Kern River. There are many hiking trails for people to explore. The south end of the campsite has direct access to many foot and mountain bike routes, including the 13-mile Whiskey Flat, 16-mile Flynn Canyon, and 4-mile Tobies routes.

4. Kern River's Edge Campground Retreat

Kern River's Edge Campground Retreat

The Kern River's Edge Campground has 44 campsites (see map below) set along the Kern River's banks.  It's a fantastic spot for river rafting, kayaking, fishing, and mountain biking. There is group camping available.

Tents, trailers, and RVs can all be accommodated at campgrounds. Each location has a table, a fire ring, and a grill. The campground amenities include Deluxe facilities, hot showers, drinking water, picnic tables, fire pits, etc. 

They have a camp store, volleyball court, shuffleboard, horseshoe pits, disc golf course, and easy river access to let you relax and enjoy yourself.

Continue through Kernville until you reach the stop sign at Kernville Road and Sierra Way. Turn left (north) onto Sierra Way and drive about 2.5 miles upriver.  The campground is located on the left side of the road at 15775 Sierra Way. Enter near our MRA Campground sign and their welcoming bear!

5. Headquarters Campground

Headquarters Campground

The campground is in Sequoia National Forest, about 2,800 feet up. It's in a nice, open spot where you can see the Kern Wild and Scenic River.

Some camping places have a view of the river and are under oak, juniper, and cottonwood trees for cover. But if you're farther from the river, there's nothing.

Sequoia National Forest is in central California, at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada. It's named after giant sequoias, the world's biggest trees, found in over 30 groves on the lower slopes.

The forest is massive, around 1.1 million acres, with elevations from 1,000 to 12,000 feet. This creates steep canyons and mountain streams with awesome waterfalls like Salmon Creek Falls and Grizzly Falls.

Standard, RV and tent-only campsites are all available at Headquarters Campground. There are picnic tables, campfire rings, drinking water, and vault toilets available.

Rafting, kayaking, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are some of the trips.  Seeing wildlife here is fun. 

Fishing is very popular, and fly fishers are interested in catching and releasing golden trout.  Sailing, swimming, fishing, water skiing, and other water sports are all available at Lake Isabella, which is only 5 miles away.

READ ALSO: Denali Campgrounds and RV Parks

6. Rivernook Campground

Rivernook Campground

Because of its close vicinity to fantastic natural sights and local fun, many people visit the Rivernook Campground each year.

It is located south of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the northern end of the Kern River Valley. You will have a fantastic seat; make sure you book early!

The Mojave desert and the Giant Redwoods, two of Central California's most beautiful and unique landscapes, are both around an hour's drive from the park and have nice sightseeing opportunities.

With its special flora and fauna, the Kern River Valley unites five distinct bioregions, attracting naturalists. 

The park is on 40 acres of riverside land, and RVers can spend long days exploring, hiking, fishing, mountain and hill biking, and skiing the Alta Sierra slopes. The Canal Trail is closer to the campground.

In addition, there are some good local food joints for people to enjoy: the award-winning Kern River Brewing Company and the recently established wine and tapas bar.

The Starlite Lounge is located just up the hill from Rivernook. Other places include Dry Meadow Creek, the Kernville Saloon, and the Kern Valley Museum.

7. SoCal Camping

SoCal Camping

You will enjoy being outside if you live in Southern California (there's a reason we pay that sunshine tax!). And chances are, if you enjoy being outside, you enjoy camping.

Here is a list of our top eight Southern California camping locations, which are okay for outdoor trips like hiking, bird watching, tidal pool exploration, surfing, stargazing, s'mores making, polar plunging, and whale viewing. Do we have to continue? 

You don't need to search much farther for a fresh location to set up your tent or pull up in your Sprinter van. Before you make reservations for your next outdoor vacation, we can provide you with all the information you need, with insider knowledge.

Easily one of the most well-liked campgrounds in California, this beach is breathtaking. If you surf, you should camp at the San Mateo Campground since there is world-class surf right down the trail.

The campgrounds provide flushable toilets, hot showers, picnic tables, and fire pits. The San Onofre Bluffs is a great place to go whale watching and sunbathing.

For those of you who live in vans, they have day parking and tent camping, complete with fire pits and picnic tables.

You may explore the camp and beach below on six dirt pathways, enjoy the convenience of porta-potties and cool outdoor showers, and of course, take in the breathtaking view of the bluffs.

8. Silver Jack Campground

Silver Jack Campground

The 60 campsites at Silver Jack Campground are over three loops: Sapinero, Ouray, and Chipeta. Every loop has a thick understory of tall grass and wildflowers, with Aspen and a few spruce trees making up most of the forest. 

The Silver Jack Reservoir and the trail system encircling the Cimarron Ridge are both easily free from the campground. Groups use one of the three loops, while single campers use the other two.

There is access to drinking water. Since there are no towns where one can purchase supplies, guests must pack everything they will need. It is a bear country; use caution when storing food. 

Travel east on US 50 from Montrose, Colorado, to County Road 858 (sign for Forest Access/Silver Jack Reservoir).

Proceed 18 miles south on County Road 858, past the signs for Beaver Lake and Big Cimarron Campgrounds, and make a right at the Silver Jack Campground. Follow the road to the loops in the campground.

9. Johnny McNally's Lodge

Johnny McNally's Lodge

In the Sequoia National Forest, Johnny McNally's is a cabin, restaurant, and shop alongside the Kern River. We saw the property while driving and decided to pull over and have a quick look around.

We saw many cute red buildings that housed a restaurant, bar, burger joint, and even hotel rooms!  Sadly, the restaurant and bar were closed on the day we went, but we had the good fortune to sample their burger stand

 Each of their comfortable, rustic-style rooms features two full-size mattresses, a mini freezer, amenities, air conditioning and heating, a shower, and WiFi. Pets are welcome.

READ ALSO: Seward Campgrounds

10. Sequoia Campground & Lodge

Sequoia Campground & Lodge

In Kernville, there is a 14-room lodge located beside the "Wild and Scenic" Kern River. You'll return to the comforts of your own room with a bed, kitchenette, bathroom with shower, free Wi-Fi, and DirecTV after an active or leisurely day.

They are 42 miles northeast of Bakersfield, in Kern County, in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

The white water rapids of the Kern River are the main site of a sizable tourism sector in Kernville. They now have pet-friendly rooms. You'll have to phone someone to reserve a room that allows pets.

Kernville Campsites

Those who camp beside the Kern River are not required to pay fees or get permits. There is one exception to this "rule": during the summer weekends, you must get a permit to camp at the Old Goldledge scattered camping area. Here are what you should know;

What You Should Know

  • Sites that provide both 30 and 50-amp receptacles are either/or. To ensure the safety of the electrical plan, customer equipment, and the public, you may only use one receptacle (plug) at a time.
  • Upon arrival ( May 15th to September 15th), we ask that RVers only use the #1 A/C unit to slowly cool down the RV. We ask that you save electricity between 12 and 6 p.m. daily during your stay. Please set the thermostat to 20 degrees colder than the present temperature and only use one air conditioning unit at a time.
  • During extreme weather or wildfire conditions, the Southern California Edison local energy company may or will need to off-power to keep the community safe. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS). Power will be off if high and dangerous weather conditions pose a fire risk. If a PSPS is adopted, Camp Kernville will not be held financially responsible for compensating customers in part or in full for any utility loss.
  • There may be variable water pressure and/or intermediate shut-off due to excessive water demand, timely maintenance, emergency repair, and use of local water supplies for fire suppression.
  • Per site, one fire ring, one utility table*, and one picnic table are okay. Personal BBQs and/or fire pits should not be placed directly on Park picnic tables but rather on the utility table supplied. The park fire ring must always be on the ground. If you wish to move them on your site, you must return them to their original position before leaving. Sites 1 and every other site in between 21 and 22 do not have utility tables.
  • All campsites are clearly marked. Please respect your neighbor's property and/or utility services, campground roads, and/or common spaces.
  • WIFI service ranges from great to patchy depending on the site in the park and total service consumption. We do not promise that our WIFI will be available or that all devices will connect to it.
  • EV charging at the camp, outdoor refrigerators and air conditioning units, even outdoor swamp coolers, air compressors, the wire extending beyond your assigned site perimeter, pop-up toilets, hammocks attached to utility poles and/or trees, clotheslines, outdoor showers on the campsite, and/or kiddie pools are all prohibited.

RV Requirements

  • All RVs must be owner-occupied, RVIA-approved, self-contained, clean, and well-maintained, with a 3" sewage hookup. To comply with Kern County health regulations, the sewer must be sealed and the sewer line bridged. Camper vans, Class A and Class C motorhomes are all rented by Cruise America, El Monte RV, or other rental companies are left out if the registered guest is insured on the unit and is responsible for the driving, set up, and liability of the unit.
  • All gray and black water must be thrown in the sewage. If your campsite does not have a sewer hookup, you must throw away all black and grey water at the Park's approved dump station.
  • It is advised to use a water pressure regulator.
  • RVs are to use a width of 8.5', excluding slide-outs. The length of a travel trailer is limited to 50 feet.

There is plenty to do in the immediate vicinity of Kern River County Park, but other attractions are only a short drive away.

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