Lower Kern River in California

by  guest-paddler

A self-supported trip created by guest-paddler

Trip Overview

Approx. 2 hour float down the lower kern river starting at the overflow parking lot of the Rio Bravo golf course, and ending at Hart Park. The trip is used quite heavily in summer by tubers, everyone is very friendly. There are no churning rapids just some light 1 to 2 foot rollers. Very manageable even to beginners with a depth ranging from 1 foot the 8 feet deep. You will pass by 1 campground about 1/4 mile from the beginning then have about 3 miles all to yourself. Then the last mile or so you get into beach parties on the North bank. Total length is 6 miles on the highway parallel to the river. You can end at Hart Park, which is a full service Park with no entrance or parking fee. This is a really fun trip that has enough current to just relax and be carried the whole way. Paddling back up is hard though. There are small beaches and sandbars everywhere so stopping to rest or stretch is no problem. Try this one and you will really enjoy it.

Caution is always wise on first trip, check often for high rocks and logs if water is low. Wear life jackets at all times.


From Bakersfield there are several Kwiky Marts on the Hwy, easy in and out. During the float trip you will pass one campground fairly soon into the trip and end in a full service campground.


Only Kern County waterway sticker for kayaks. Campground fees are $7.00 a day. Hart Park where you end is free as is the overflow parking at the beginning of the trip.


Take Alfred Harrel Hwy. East which will take you to Hart Park, continue on to Rio Bravo approx. 5 miles further. Or take Hwy 178 to Alfred Harrel Hwy then follow it back toward the west to Rio Bravo resort. Look for the Ming Lake exit follow it toward the lake, Just before the lake turn right and follow road around bottom of golf course approx. 1/2 mile. Turn left into the overflow parking area. You can drive to within 30 feet of a great launch area.


There are many along the river from side roads and the parking areas. Do not launch from the campgrounds unless you have PAID FOR A SPACE as the park rangers will not allow it. The overflow area is FREE. The overflow area closes at dark.


Kern county Parks and Rec. There branch office is at Hart Park so waterway use permits can be purchased there.


Any local map will show good directions to this area.

Trip Details

  • Trip Duration: Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: River/Creek (Up to Class II)

Trip Location