Rafting the Kern River in California
Kern River is near Bakerfield, and highly unknown by most Angelinos (L.A. residents). It has an loads of outdoor activities like mountain-biking, hiking, tubing, white water kayak and rafting, and rock-climbing.
My friends and I have been to Kernville a total of four times now. The river has world class white water rapids, and after a long drought here in California, the river finally was high enough for some epic adventures. 19 of us stayed at Mountain & River Adventures Campground right on the river. They have great bathrooms with showers, a volleyball court, horseshoes, and spacious camping spots under the bright stars away from any big cities.
Watch the video below.
We hit up Remington Hot Springs on Saturday, after discovering the water flow was too high for commercial tubing. The hot springs are on the river's edge and comprise of 3 stone hot tubs. There is also a nearby rope swing into the colder river waters. This is super fun to swing off of but be careful how high you jump. When we were there the water was only about 4 feet deep. The rest of the afternoon we spent at camp, playing games like spikeball, ladderball, and making maragaritas with my friend Chelsea's Coolest Cooler, a cooler an with attached blender. So basically yes, it is the coolest! In the evening we bar-b-qed and hung out by the fire, classic camping style.
Sunday was the big day, rafting class four rapids on the Upper Kern with Mountain & River Adventures! We started on a stretch of class 3's called the Lickity Split to get our feet wet. The second run was more action packed with plenty of class 4's, lots of big drops and intense rapids. We were lucky to ride this stretch of the river, it's only rideable about 2-3 weeks of the year. We had some lunch after the second run, then did another stretch of the river. One of our rafts capsized on this run, and everyone was picked up by other rafts. We decided after this run to do the same run once more before calling it a day.
This last run ended up being the most action-packed white water run I've ever had in my life. It was getting colder, and everyone was tired. On this run, we had multiple swimmers. On our boat, one of our rafters fell out on a run called "Joe's diner" and got to ride down some rocks and heavy rapids the entire way until we got her back into our raft. We had one guide who was a rookie and had people falling out of his raft all throughout the day. Towards the end of the run, the rookie's raft got stuck on a rock for a quite some time. While they were trying to get unstuck, some of the raft's waiting decided to "surf." This means rowing towards the rapids for a fun little push off the rapids. Unfortunately, when our boat pushed up against the rapids on of my friends fell out into an undertow. It was the scariest moment in rafting I've ever experienced. She was getting pushed down and cycled in the same spot, only coming up for air a few times. It felt like an eternity, but it went on for about 25 seconds watching her struggle to get out of the cycle and finally it spit her back out. It was a huge reminder that rafting, while fun and exhilarating, is definitely something to take seriously. Take into consideration all the potential dangers and be aware of what to do in those situations.
That being said, the Kern is really a great river to raft on, and we had an amazing time there which is why we've gone back multiple years.
Map of locations
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