For a while now since starting this camping blog, we have been planning to write about our adventures on Kern River, a common camping destiny of ours. What we love about it is that it’s a perfect spot to go to for a 2-3 days mini camping trip and it’s only 3 and half hours away from our home in Santa Monica Mountains. Kern River runs all through Sequoia National Forest here in California where deer and bears roam free and trout is what’s for dinner. You will also find plenty of great campgrounds that are right by the river bed which is a beautiful setting to go to sleep to under stars and wake up to. You will also find that campgrounds are open most of the year and a few even year round. We have stayed at many of the campground locations but we definitely have our favorites. Our advice is if you go in the summer, you should try to go midweek because on the weekends it gets pretty busy. If you do go in the summer time and it has to be on a weekend then we recommend getting there as early Friday as you can and go to Fairview campground, our favorite of the bunch. This campground has beautiful tent sites and some with shade provide by nice tree canopies. This campground is set about 25 minutes north of Kernville off Sierra Way (HWY 521).
We also recommend Headquarters if you prefer to be closer to the town and to have cell service. Passed Headquarters campground there is no cell service for miles and miles. The main town on Kern River is Kernville. It is a nice old town that has done a great job at maintaining the history of that area and is very tourist friendly without being too touristy. It has a beer brewery and some great BBQ spots, but our most favorite is the “River Kern General Store” also known as “Biggest Little Store on Kern”. We love the service and dream about their burgers when we are away. Although they are a mini general store, they also have a great Deli on the other side. It is and has always been owned by the same family who, if asked, can tell you stories about the land and give you advice on fishing and hunting and all with a nice small town smile on their faces. You will find them at the north end of Kernville; they are the last business on the right as you exit the town and head toward the campgrounds.
If you also love to camp during fall and winter, or as we call it here in California cold season because that is all we mostly get, some cold and not much rain, then Kern River is a great destination too. We have camped here right before Thanksgiving a couple years back and were blessed with a mini snow storm. Last year we also came here around the same time and brought chestnuts and roasted them on an actual open fire. They were amazing. (We will share chestnuts roasting instructions soon.) Last winter while we were on Kern we were visited by a bear and her cubs that were roaming calmly and looking for food. We were surprised to see bears in the winter but then we were told by a local that in recent years the bears have been going into hibernation a lot later than usual due to scarcity in their food chain. Thankfully they just walked away as we flashed light in their eyes and backed slowly toward our car. In the fall and winter there are not many people camping and that is our favorite time to go there. Also the leaves have a wonderful golden and rusty red tone to them that makes Kern River Valley breathtaking. For that time of the year Fairview Campground is still our favorite.
Kern River has been close to our hearts since the very first time we camped there. It’s where we caught most of our trout and cooked them for dinner under the beautiful starry skies. It is where we have gone to see meteor showers and found some of the most beautiful looking river rocks to take home.