Year-Round Fun to be Had in the Kern River Valley

By Aaron Crutchfield

Located about 45 minutes to the west of Highway 395 via Highway 178, the Kern River Valley offers a wealth of recreation opportunities.

Although the Erskine Fire burned more than 48,000 acres on the south side of the lake in 2016, taking more than 300 homes along with it, much of the area’s recreation was untouched. The Kern River Valley is open for business.

Even better, a record snowpack and winter rains raised the lake level on July 1, 2017, to more than 25 vertical feet above its level a year prior, which is well more than double the water behind the dam. Areas such as Paradise Cove and Kissack Cove, dry a year before, were once again usable.

More recently, as work to seismically retrofit the dam has progressed, the point has passed at which construction crews no longer need to keep the lake level artificially low, meaning the lake can hold about two-thirds of its usual capacity until construction is finished.

The Kern River Valley is a destination that offers varied interests for the young and old. Nobody will be disappointed. The area still has working cattle ranches, scenic beauty, and more recreational opportunities than one could imagine.

Time seems to stand still in this recreation laden area. Be it hiking, camping, fishing in the river or lake, water-skiing, general boating, whitewater rafting, mountain bike riding, or just plain getaway time, there’s something for everyone for a day or for a full vacation.

Also available in the Kern River Valley are horseback riding, hunting, off-roading, stargazing and bird watching, or one can find hidden treasures in the area’s antique stores.

The valley is surrounded by mountains that yield runoff to the wild and scenic North Fork of the Kern River. Above the quaint town of Kernville is the Trail of 100 Giants, located on the Western Divide Highway in the Sequoia National Monument.

Seeking ghosts? Head to the Silver City Ghost Town, listed in the National Directory of Haunted Places.

Even in the cold of winter, there is opportunity for recreation in the Kern River Valley area. Check out Alta Sierra Ski Resort, along Rancheria Road outside Wofford Heights. Go to or call 760-376-4186 for more information.


Visitors to Kernville enjoy the refreshing water of the Kern River on a


Here are some of the featured events throughout the year in the Kern River Valley. Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended to check ahead of time before attending one of these events.



Whiskey Flat Days, Kernville. See the area return to its Old West days as Whiskey Flats. Featuring the Wild West Daze Rodeo. More information, Kernville Chamber of Commerce, 760-376-2629.

Annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby. Always a big event. KRV Chamber of Commerce, 760-379-5236.


Kern River Valley Classic Car Show. Call Kernville Rotary Club, 760-417-1008.

Annual Whitewater Wednesday. Kernville Chamber of Commerce, 760-376-2629.

Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza. KRV Chamber, 760-379- 5236.


Annual Rubber Ducky Race. Call 760-379-7785 for information.


Annual Sierra Fall Arts and Crafts Show in Kernville. Call 760-376-2629 for information.

Kernville Fat Tire Festival. Call 760-376-5236 or 800-861-6553.

Kickin’ Back in Kernville Rod Run. Call 760-376-2629.

Whiskey Flat Fall Festival featuring several family events. Kernville Chamber, 760-376-2629.


Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade. Call 760-379-5236 for information.

There are many more events held all over the valley. For more information, call the Kern Valley Sun at 760- 379-3667, the Kernville Chamber of Commerce at 760-376-2629, or the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce at 760-379-5236.