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

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.

Cost: Free
Distance from Kernville: 19.2 miles
Cell phone coverage: None
Google Map
Website

Limestone Campground

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.

Cost: Starts at $24
Distance from Kernville: 18.7 miles
Cell phone coverage: None
Google Map
Website

Fairview Campground

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.

Cost: Starts at $28
Distance from Kernville: 15.4 miles
Cell phone coverage: None
Google Map
Website

Goldledge Campground

Cost: Starts at $28
Distance from Kernville: 10.1 miles
Cell phone coverage: None
Google Map
Website

Hospital Flat Campground

Cost: Starts at $28
Distance from Kernville: 6.4 miles
Cell phone coverage: None
Google Map
Website

Chico Flat Dispersed Campground

Chico Flats is a free campground. There is no water available here and trash and toilets are only available during the summer months.

Cost: Free
Distance from Kernville: 5.9 miles
Cell phone coverage: Spotty
Google Map
Website

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.

Cost: Starts at $40
Distance from Kernville: 5.2 miles
Cell phone coverage: Spotty
Google Map
Website

Camp Three Campground

When the water flows are in range, this is a great campground as the put-in for the Wall or Cables is close by.

Cost: Starts at $28
Distance from Kernville: 4.8 miles
Cell phone coverage: Spotty
Google Map
Website

Halfway Group Campground

This is a group campground with just five sites available.

Cost: Starts at $40
Distance from Kernville: 4.3 miles
Cell phone coverage: Spotty
Google Map
Website

Headquarters Campground

Cost: Starts at $28
Distance from Kernville: 3.8 miles
Cell phone coverage: Spotty
Google Map
Website

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
Google Map
mtnriver.com