Upper Kern River Camping
The Upper Kern is the river corridor from Johnsondale Bridge south until the river meets Lake Isabella, near Kernville, CA. The campgrounds listed here are from Brush Creek to Mountain and River Adventures campground. Anything downstream of this is categorized as Kernville Camping. Campgrounds listed range from Forest Service paid, dispersed (free), and privately owned.
The Upper Kern campground list is sorted in downstream order, meaning from the top of the Upper Kern (furthest from Kernville) and then descending towards town.
Brush Creek is a dirt parking lot at the confluence of Brush Creek and the Kern River. There is a pit toilet here. The ‘campground’ is immediately next to the road and offers little to zero privacy from other campers and those driving by. Due to it being labeled as a dispersed camping area there is no registration. Overcrowding and the issues that come with it (trash, noise, etc) can be a big problem here.
Just down the road from Brush Creek is Limestone Campground. This is a beautiful camping spot located right next to Limestone Rapid. Reservations are required. Arguably one of the best campgrounds on the Upper Kern river.
Fairview Campground is one of the larger campgrounds on the Upper Kern river with 55 total sites available. While it is remote in the sense there’s no cell phone coverage and Kernville is a bit of a drive away, Fairview is walkable to McNally’s restaurant which is well known for their steak dinners.
Thunderbird Group Campground
Thunderbird is meant for group camping and has just three sites. When water flows allow it, this is an active put-in location for the Cables Run on the Upper Kern for rafters and kayakers.
Mountain and River Adventures Campground
MRA is a privately owned campground with hot showers and flush toilets. They have a private put-in located just upstream from Powerhouse Rapid.
Cost: Starts at $54
Distance from Kernville: 2.7 miles
Cell phone coverage: Okay