Sierra South - Kern River Rafting, Kayaking and Climbing
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Kern River Rafting & Kayaking River News, Flow and Weather

Kern Flows (COE) on Oct 06, 2015 @ 10:00 pm • Upper: 95 cfs • Lower Above Borel: 92 cfs • Lower Below Borel: 92 cfs

Global SST Anomaly as of September 17, 2015
Strong El Nino Conditions in Equatorial Pacific!
Strong El Nino Conditions in Equatorial Pacific
SST Anomaly as of September 17, 2015

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Also see: Looking for the Flow?
For HAZARD notes see THE RIVER

The Sierra South Event CalendarSierra South Event Calendar

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• Kern Festival 2013 Photos & Results
"Around the Kern" Resource Guide
Employment Information
News from the Past...

Astral Buoyancy Greenjacket Rescue VestRun the gnar and pick up the pieces with the unsurpassed fit and safety of the next generation Astral Greenjacket Rescue Vest.

Werner Advantage SUP PaddleThe Werner Advantage SUP Paddle with Premium laminate fiberglass construction has a balanced blade design which is smooth and powerful. The Full-size shape is great for straight ahead tracking. The fiberglass shaft adds comfort, control and is lightweight, stiff and durable. If you're just getting started, check out the Fiji SUP Paddle.

Sweet Rocker Halfcut Helmet The pinnacle of whitewater protection! The Rocker HC is a high performance helmet for really rough conditions, made with the brand new TLC Shell Technology.

Teva Terra Fi Lite (Women's) The Terra Fi Lite features all the mondo performance details of its iconic sport-sandal forebears in a leaner, lower profile. Three-point strap adjustment fine tunes the fit and provides optimum support off-road or off-shore. Available in Men's and Women's models.

Immersion Research Neoprene Guide Short The Neoprene Lined Guide Short is two shorts in one: an IR Guide short with a separate 1.5mm neoprene inner short attached to the waistband.!

Immersion Research Supermodel DrytopThe Supermodel dry top design is inspired by high end, packable alpine shells, and the end result is a waterproof breathable dry top that is simply a delight to wear on the water..

Mini Me Inflatable RaftYou'll have soooo much fun in this compact and super-maneuverable Hyside Mini Me Inflatable Raft!

Player PaddleThe Werner Player straight shaft is a great paddle for play and creek boaters.


More Selections from our River Store

River Notes for Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Important information about River Notes.

Sierra South Raft Trips and Kayaking ClassesDownload our Rafting & Kayaking Adventures brochure (PDF).

Fall Savings!

Monster El Nino!The Sierra South crew is enjoying the changing of the seasons. There's a Monster El Nino lurking around the corner. We can't wait! The weather is beautiful in Kernville! It's time for hoodies, hot coco, boots, jeans, cuddling, crisp air and flushed cheeks. Because we are feeling are warm and fuzzy we want to extend some great Fall Savings to you! Check out the Big Selection of New and Used Kayaks on Sale! These are the best prices of the year! Paddlesports accessories, clothing, shoes and more are on sale 20-40% off in the Sierra South River Store. Plus, Free Shipping on orders over $99.00! (Excludes kayaks, rafts & paddles.) This Sale will end at the stroke of midnight November 15th 2015. These are the best deals of the year! Don't wait! All sales are final and subject to stock on hand.

Last Spring the consensus forecast was that weak to moderate El Nino conditions would develop by the end of Summer 2014. On again, off again, warming of the equatorial Pacific did occur, but did not develop into a fully-coupled and sustained El Nino event. This year is different. An El Nino event is not being forecast, it's already here and it's a strong one! El Nino impacts are already being seen in Southern California and other areas around the world.

Based on the July-August Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI), for the time of year, the 2015 El Nino is one of the three strongest El Ninos since 1950. A survey of dynamical and statistical ENSO models by the IRI & CPC suggests continued warming in the central equatorial Pacific with a peak of the temperature anomaly in the Nino 3.4 region in the OND or NDJ season.

The 2015 El Nino is being compared to the "Super" El Ninos of 1997-98, 1982-83 and 1972-73. While at the moment it doesn't look like the 2015 event will quite match 1997-98 or 1982-83, it's really too early to tell. How might a Super El Nino affect the Kern Snowpack? Historically, they have produced some of the biggest snowpacks on record:

April 1, 1998 Kern Basin Snowpack: 174%+ - All Sierra Snow Courses
April 1, 1983 Kern Basin Snowpack: 258% - All Sierra Snow Courses
April 1, 1973 Kern Basin Snowpack: 195% - All Sierra Snow Courses

September 17th the Climate Prediction Center released their latest round of 3-Month Seasonal Precipitation Outlooks, including the Winter outlook for December, January & February 2015-16. We're hoping all that green is going to translate into the best paddling on the Kern we've seen in many years!

Our world-famous Lickety-Split and Lickety-Blaster raft trips are far and away the two most popular and most affordable Class 2-3 whitewater rafting runs available on the Kern River. Both are full of enough excitement to challenge just about everyone from young tykes to grandmas and grandpas. Looking for more adrenalin? Try our Upper Kern and Forks trips. Reserve your 2015 trip today!

New peak flow on the Upper Kern!Surprise, surprise! The flow on the Upper Kern started to come up the morning of July 3rd and at 3:00 PM in the afternoon hit a new peak for 2015 of 873 cfs at a stage of 6.01 feet. The runoff was from monsoon rainfall over the Sierra Wednesday night. Rainfall gauges are few and far between, but an automated weather station near Rattlesnake Creek in the Kern headwaters recorded more than 0.6 inch of rain from 9:00 PM July 1st to 7:00 AM July 3rd. The Southwest Monsoon has been relatively active this Summer. With the flow low on the Upper Kern this year, runoff from storms over the higher elevations of the Sierra can make more of an impact than in a normal year.

Learn to Paddle An SUPYou've seen them at the lake, river, beach and on TV -- learn to paddle a SUP! It's fun and a great way to get an on-the-water workout! We offer a 2.5 hour Intro to SUP class and a more extensive SUP 101 class. We also have 4 Hour, Full Day, and Overnight SUP rentals.

Sierra South - Paddling the Kern for 28 Years!Learn to kayak! Our proven teaching method takes you through a gradual progression that maximizes the fun. We've designed our introductory and beginning classes for those who have never river kayaked before, or who have played around with kayaking some, but have not had formal instruction in the fundamentals of river kayaking. We also offer a 5-day total immersion learn-to-kayak class and Private Instruction. Our Kayaking School page has all the details on these, and other whitewater and lake touring kayak classes!

Smile, then gasp, then smile again! Paddle along with Sierra South's Evan Moore, Johnny Chase and friends on their epic kayaking road trip to Idaho and British Columbia. Hit the North Fork Payette, Green Truss, Lower Lewis, Box Canyon, Ashlu Mine, Fear Canyon and other classic runs at flows that will make your adrenalin surge and palms sweat!

Kern River Flows & WeatherCheck the Kern River Flows & Weather using our desktop/laptop Flash app. Get the latest available 15 minute flow for the Upper; and hourly flows for the Upper, Lower Above Borel, Lower Below Borel, Lake Isabella storage, Kernville temperature, headwaters temperature, 24 hour change in flows, and 3-day & 9-day forecasts for selected cities and Sierra locations. Use your mouse to rotate lists & spinners, and make selections. Double-click a selected location/city to get the weather forecast.

Sierra South Instructor Katharine Edmonson Paddling the new 2012 Jackson Fun Runner in Riverside Park
Sierra South Instructor Katharine Edmonson paddling the new 2012 Jackson Fun Runner in Riverside Park

Check out the newest Jackson boats in the New Boat Barn, including the Zen 55, Zen 65 & Zen 75, and the Fun Runner 60 and Fun Runner 70. Both the Zen and Fun Runner are great new river runners. The Rock Star and Star are still the playboats of choice and for creeking/river running the Villain and Hero series are both standouts. Jackson still has the best line of kids boats hands down. Cross link plastic for kayaks went bye bye in 2012. However the good news is the newest linear plastic on the market is an exclusive to Jackson. So far it is super tough, and looks great. Come paddle a Jackson boat and see why Jackson Kayak is the #1 whitewater manufacturer in the US!

Johnny Chase on the South Fork Tule River
Johnny Chase on the South Fork Tule River.

Johnny Chase on the South Fork Tule River

The various forks and tributaries of the Kern, Kaweah and Tule rivers have some incredible paddling. Local paddlers Eric Giddens, Evan Moore, Spencer Josif, Johnny Chase, Austin Nickell, and Andrew Pernicano went exploring on the South Fork of the Tule River and found a short jewel of a run around Camp Nelson. Check out this drop!

Looking for the flow? The most recent Upper and Lower Kern River flows are now displayed near the top of this page as the data becomes available from the Corps of Engineers. Included are the flow on the Upper Kern at Riverside Park, and the Lower Kern above and below the Borel Powerhouse. If the flows cannot be obtained from the COE, "N/A" or "-NR-" will be listed.

The Kern Valley River Council (KVRC) was awarded a $50,000 grant from Southern California Edison for the Kernville Riverside Park Restoration Project. Earlier this year KVRC was awarded a $25,000 grant from the USFS, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The Kernville Riverside Park Restoration Project's goal is to enhance the ecological, aesthetic, and recreational value of the 1/4 mile stretch of the Kern River starting just above the Kernville Bridge, through Riverside Park in Kernville. KVRC is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that runs the Kern River Festival every year and organized the 2003 Wildwater World Cup Kayak races on the Upper Kern.

Area of Riverside Park damaged in recent flooding.
Flood damage in Riverside Park from high water in December 2010.

The Kernville Riverside Park Restoration Project will provide bank stabilization, erosion control, hazards removal, control of noxious weeds, promote local salmonid habitat, plant native flora, provide recreational opportunities for water users such as fishermen, rafters, kayakers, tubers, and implement public safety and environmental education programs. This Winter volunteers did an initial survey of the reach, gathering stream profile data and flow velocity data.

Unknown to some, Riverside Park in Kernville is the first manufactured whitewater park in America. Tom Johnson, local boating legend and former Olympic Coach and National Kayak champion successfully lobbied for the construction of rapids and bank restoration over 40 years ago with the Army Corps of Engineers as mitigation for the drowning of part of the Stanislaus River with the New Melones Dam in North Central California.

After 40 years, Riverside Park is in dire need of restoration and additional improvements. Whitewater parks have sprung up in both urban and rural settings throughout the country. Parks have been constructed in places such as Reno, Nevada; Vail, Steamboat, Boulder, Buena Vista and Salida Colorado; Boise Idaho; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Their construction has revitalized the river and promoted recreation and tourism.

Describing the numerous on-river and off-river recreation options, the July/August 2008 issue of Paddler Magazine selected Kernville as one of the 'Best Paddling Towns' in the U.S. The article rated Kernville a 5-star weekend destination and a 5-star 'Near Home' vacation destination.

Sierra South has been running raft trips, and teaching kayaking classes on the Kern River since 1985. The 2015 season will mark our 30th year on the Kern River!

We talk a lot about the "Kern River basin" in Rivernotes. During the Winter, we frequently refer to the Upper Tyndall Creek, Pascoes, and Wet Meadows snow sensors. During the paddling season, it might be Limestone, The Forks, Kern Falls, or Kernville. Here's a satellite overview of the 1000 square mile N.F. Kern drainage area with a few of the features labeled. If you look near the bottom of the photo, you'll see Lake Isabella. We're located just north of the lake!

Want to check on the Kern snowpack and see where the snow sensors and snow courses are located? We've put together a Kern River Basin Snow Courses & Sensors Google Earth KMZ file mashup that shows the station locations in Google Earth and links to the California Data Exchange Center (CDEC) data page for each station.

Here is a snapshot of today's flow and reservoir data, based on reports from the Corps of Engineers (COE) and Southern California Edison (SCE). Flow data is preliminary and subject to revision. Click on "Current" to get the latest COE info. For SCE flow information, see the SCE web site or call the flow phone at 877-537-6356 or 760-376-8821. According to SCE, the flow phone values reported for Above & Below Fairview, and Below Democrat Dam are updated every 5-10 seconds. All other flow phone data is manually updated twice a day (7am & 2pm) when an operator is on duty.


Upper Kern

Lower Kern

  Above Fairview* Below Fairview*

At Kernville

Lake Isabella**
Below Democrat Dam***
Date & Time Flow (cfs) Flow (cfs) Stage Flow (cfs) Below
to Borel Canal Storage
Flow (cfs)
06OCT2015 0900 106 64 4.61 95 65 65 0 30369 --
Kern Flow Info Current
(15 min)
5 Day Plot 10 Day Plot Month WY '15 WY '14 WY '13 WY '12
Weather NWS NWS Zones CNN Weather Underground Satellite Radar Riverkern RAWS Democrat RAWS

*Flow values from SCE web site.

**The Borel Canal diverts water from Lake Isabella approximately five miles downstream to the Borel Powerhouse. The flow above Borel Powerhouse is the water released from the Dam directly to the river. The combined flow below the Borel Powerhouse is the total outflow from Lake Isabella. Creeks along the Lower Kern may also contribute to the flow.

***Flow values from SCE Flow Phone. For current information call 877-537-6356 or 760-376-8821. According to SCE the flow values reported for Above & Below Fairview, and Below Democrat Dam are updated every 5-10 seconds. All other flow phone data is manually updated twice a day (7am & 2pm) when an operator is on duty.

More information concerning flow and weather can be found on our LINKS page.

River Notes Archive and Index - River Notes Photo Archive

Interactive Maps to Kernville & Road Conditions

Kernville - Upper Kern Maps

Sandy Flat, Hobo, Miracle Hot Springs - Lower Kern Maps

Maps are marked at junction of Borel Rd. and Kern River Canyon Rd. Sandy Flat, Hobo, and Miracle Hot Springs are south of this junction on Kern River Canyon Rd.

Road Info

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Barry Tessman

Barry Tessman
Barry Tessman



Store: 760-376-3745  Mail Order: 800-376-7303  Reservations: 800-457-2082

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