About Us

Join us as we celebrate our 33rd year in business!

Growing up in Beatrice, Nebraska, Tom and Marianne had their fair share of super-horizontal flatness with a side order of pancake. When they came to Kernville, with the Sierra Nevada jutting up, up, and away around them, they got excited about all the possibilities — all the cool ways to play in the mountains. But back in the ‘80s, no one was catering to the outdoor recreation crowd. No one, that is, until Sierra South.

Since founding Sierra South in 1985, their mountain and paddle sports store has grown from a little shop to one of the largest specialty whitewater stores in California.

Sierra South’s retail shop and online store:

  • offers a great selection of whitewater boats and gear, as well as quality clothing, sandals, river shoes, swimsuits, surf shorts, hats, sunglasses, souvenirs, T-shirts, kids’ clothing, and more.
  • maintains a year-round presence on the Kern River in Kernville, providing knowledge of the river and the area.
  • boasts a staff made up of 97.4% paddlers.
  • is dog-friendly!!
  • opened its first online River Store in 1997, so you can shop online at your convenience and with confidence.
  • was the first Teva retail account in 1985 when former Grand Canyon guide Mark Thatcher started his sandal company.
  • is now the largest whitewater kayaking store in Southern California.

We are proud of our status as the premier paddlesports school in Southern and Central California. We have been teaching classes and offering tours in kayaking, rafting, climbing, hiking, and more to thousands of people since 1985.

Operating under a permit with the Sequoia National Forest, we conduct trips on the wild and scenic Kern River, at Isabella Lake, and in the majestic mountains of the Southern Sierra Nevada.

It is our style to provide you with the best possible paddling experience.

We offer:

  • State-of-the-art equipment that is new or in excellent condition every season
  • A well-thought-out course curriculum for learning the fundamentals of kayaking in a fun, supportive environment with lots of on-the-water paddling and limited indoor lecturing
  • Well-trained staff of instructors eager to advance your kayaking skills

What makes us so special?

The Kern River and Sequoia National Forest’s dramatic beauty and consistently mild climate are ideal for whitewater and lake kayaking, rafting, climbing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and fishing.

Sierra South Fame

We were named the best paddling town in America by Sports Afield, and one of America’s best by Paddler and Canoe & Kayak magazines.

We have been featured in magazines such as ShapePaddlerWomen’s Sports & FitnessPeopleRiver, and Canoe & Kayak.

Our “Hollywood” guides and instructors have worked with TV crews from Home ImprovementDiscovery Channel, Junkyard Wars, The Outdoor Life Network, and a famous Japanese talk show called Doki-Doki. We’ve also worked on commercials for the Nissan X-Terra, Toyota, Jeep, Subaru, and Chevy, Blue Cross, Timberland, The Postal Sevice, Booking.com and Wendy’s.

Look carefully for pickup shots of the Kern River in the movies K-Pax and Jurassic Park III. We even won a Location Scouting Award for the waterfall fishing shot in the movie Hanging Up.

Sierra South
Mountain Sports
Phone (800) 457-2082
Map Marker

11300 Kernville Road
Kernville, California 93238

Sierra South operates under permits issued by: Sequoia National Forest, Klamath National Forest, and the National Park Service/Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Sierra South is an equal opportunity recreation service provider.

Hours of Operation

Store: 10am – 5pm, Mon-Fri

           10am – 4pm, Sat-Sun

Reservations: 10am – 2pm, Mon-Fri

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