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 19, 2017 @ 1:00 am • Upper: 239 cfs • Lower Above Borel: 1060 cfs • Lower Below Borel: 1060 cfs

Autumn on the Upper Kern near the Limestone Put-in
Strong El Nino Conditions in Equatorial Pacific!

Autumn on the Upper Kern near the Limestone Put-in

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

The Sierra South Event CalendarSierra South Event Calendar

Shop at the Sierra South River Store!
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Kayak Comparison Chart
Raft Guide School Info
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• Kern Festival 2017 Results
"Around the Kern" Resource Guide
Employment Information

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.

IceMule CoolerFoolproof seal to keep ice in and air out. MuleSkinEVTM. Tough Inner and Outer layers; 2X thicker than most soft coolers. PolarLayerTM Insulation. The IceMule Cooler keeps contents “IceMule Cold” for up to 24 hours.

Sweet Strutter HelmetThe Strutter Helmet changed everything with a unique design that combined extreme protection capabilities with the defining form of a baseball cap. The new and improved Strutter changes the game again with a brand spanking new version of this true whitewater classic.

Five Ten Water TennieThe Five Ten Water Tennie has a Stealth C4 rubber outsole for superb underwater traction. Fast-drying neoprene/mesh uppers with built-in drainage system and barrel lacing closure provide a snug and comfortable fit. Designed for paddling, fishing, canyoneering, and adventure racing.

Mysterioso M-Tech Long Sleeve Top The Mysterioso M-Tech Long Sleeve Top is made from quick drying Polartec fabric that provides warmth without weight. This fabric has a 4-way stretch that won't restrict movement, and provides maximum comfort with its soft, velour-finish fleece interior. The flatlock stitching prevents chafing, while the durable outer layer is wind and abrasion resistant; the inner layer pulls moisture from the skin and keeps you dry whether you sweat or are wet.

NRS Maverick GloveThe NRS Maverick Glove stands high above its peers. Warm, waterproof and flexible with an innovative HydroCuff™ that helps keep water out and your warmth in, the Maverick is definitely a cut above. The raw neoprene palm gives you awesome gripping ability while the raw neoprene back sheds water, greatly reducing evaporative cooling.

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

More Selections from our River Store

River Notes for Friday, October 6, 2017

Important information about River Notes.

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

Check out the great Fall Savings on selected New and Used Kayaks and in-stock paddling gear!

Check out the great Fall Savings on selected New and Used Kayaks and in-stock paddling gear. Don't miss out on some of the best prices of the year! Plus, Sierra South is offering free shipping on orders over $99.00! (Free shipping offer excludes paddles, kayaks and rafts.) This Sale will end at the stroke of midnight November 15th, 2017. All Sales are final and subject to stock on hand.

The 2017 paddling season has been incredible, and it's not over yet! It's October and the Lower Kern is still running around 1000 cfs. Go paddling this Fall in a new boat from Sierra South! Our boat inventory changes daily so give us a call at 800-376-7303 or email with any boat or gear questions. We also routinely get a number of trade-in boats during this time so if you don’t see a particular model in the Boat Barn, ask for it by name as we may have just taken a trade boat in stock. Check the Boat Barns frequently and don't hesitate to email or call.

Book your 2018 raft trip or kayaking class early for our best available discounts! Get 30% off any trip pre-booked for the 2018 season and also get 2017 pricing while it lasts. These discounts will also apply to Saturdays and holidays. Hurry, take advantage of this promotional discount now!! Large groups or those wanting to book on a holiday are encouraged to pre-book, as spaces are already filling. Booking online? Use Promo Code 30EARLY. Promo ends November 30, 2017.

Sierra South - Paddling the Kern for 32 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 class IV Upper Kern trips. Here's what guests have said about our trips. Book your 2018 raft trip before November 30, 2017 and Save 30% using Promo code 30EARLY!

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! Book your kayak class before November 30, 2017 and Save 30% using Promo code 30EARLY!

While many international models continue to forecast ENSO-neutral conditions this Winter, two U.S. climate models and changing conditions in the equatorial Pacific have prompted the CPC to change the ENSO Alert System Status to a La Niña Watch. According to the CPC/IRI consensus forecast La Niña conditions are now favored over Neutral conditions this Fall or Winter, and Neutral conditions are favored in Spring 2018. El Niño appears to be out of the picture for now. Current long range outlooks show an equal chance of above normal, normal or below normal precipitation this Winter in the Southern Sierra. The forecast is like flipping a three-sided coin — there is a 2 in 3 chance (67%) for either normal or above normal precipitation. We like those odds and are hopeful for another good water year!

Congrats to our very own Evan Moore, Sierra South kayak instructor/raft guide, and son of co-owner Tom Moore, who competed in the most extreme kayak race in the world, the North Fork Championship, and crushed it! Paddling in a field of 31 of the world's best whitewater boaters, Evan placed second in the premier event of the NFC weekend — the Jacob's Ladder Giant Slalom. The flow race day was the highest ever for the event — 3900 cfs. All the high water runs on the Kern Cataracts this year paid off for Evan, who masterfully handled the exceptionally difficult whitewater.

According to preliminary COE flow data, the Upper (North Fork) Kern at Riverside Park hit an hourly peak of 8078 cfs with a stage of 10.73 at 10:00 am on June 22. This is a bit lower than the preliminary peak of 8238 cfs and stage of 10.76 recorded at 9:00 am on June 5. The SCE Fairview Dam Inflow peaked at 7217 cfs at 8:00 am, which is also a little lower than the peak of 7395 cfs recorded at 8:00 am on June 5.

Paddling on Lake Isabella
Explore Lake Isabella. We've got the lake kayaks and standup paddleboards (SUPs) to get you out there!

With all that runoff, Lake Isabella is filling up! There hasn't been this much lake to explore in years! And we've got the lake kayaks and standup paddleboards (SUPs) to get you out there!! We have a variety of different models, new & used, in stock. Recreational kayaks from Dagger, Jackson, Perception, and Wilderness Systems. SUPs from BIC, Boardworks, and NRS. Stop by the Store or see them online in our Boat Barns. Also check out our Intro To Lake Paddling class!

The May snow course measurements for the Kern River Basin snowpack were at 210% of the normal May 1 total. This is about the same as in the big El Nino Winter of 1997-98! The California Cooperative Snow Surveys May 1 Bulletin 120 Runoff Forecast projects the April-July runoff to be 242% of normal. This is higher than the runoff projection on May 1, 1998.

Kern Basin May Snow Courses

The heavy snow resulted from a parade of atmospheric river events and systems with a broad, moist westerly flow. At times lower elevation rain and melting snow produced high flows on the Upper Kern. Based on the preliminary flow data from the COE gage at Riverside Park, the highest peaks have been 18338 cfs at 8:00 a.m. January 9 and 23863 cfs at 10:00 p.m. February 7. (Flows are from the COE's WY17 tabulation.)

Following years of drought and low flows we had great weather and water for the 52nd Kern River Festival! Saturday, the juicy flow on Brush Creek was excellent for the Extreme Downriver Race. On Saturday afternoon the Upper Kern at Riverside Park was about 3500 cfs for the Hyside Mini-me Races, and then went up to about 3800 cfs for the Tom Johnson Slalom on Sunday. All the results are now available on the Events page of the web site.

Releases to the Lower Kern were increased in mid February and according to COE flow data peaked at flows of over 5000 cfs in May and June. Kayakers have been running the Cataracts higher than ever before. Today (July 20) the Lower Kern is running about 3450 cfs.

In early January, while most of us just stood with our mouths agape, local Kern paddlers Evan Moore (son of Sierra South co-owner Tom Moore) and Johnny Chase jumped on the river and got in some epic runs. Both are very accomplished, elite kayakers who have paddled internationally. On January 5 they paddled Brush Creek and then the Upper Kern down through Chamise Gorge, Upper Salmon Falls and Lower Salmon Falls, Sock 'em Dog and Fender Bender. On January 9 they did a "Bridge to Bridge" (Johnsondale Bridge to Kernville Bridge) in 2.5 hours, with a stop a Corral Creek. They did it without portages and commented that 17,000 cfs was "'kinda pushy... really fun." Now the they're are off to Patagonia for more amazing paddling. Here's a video from Evan during the Bridge to Bridge run.

We received the following recently: "Hi there! My friends and I took a rafting trip through Sierra South back in June 2016 and had an amazing time. I thought you might like to check out some of the video from our trip... Thanks for everything!" Scott Simerly Jr. Note: The Forest Service now prohibits the use of any glass containers in the Kern River recreation areas. Scott assures us that no glass was broken or left by the river in the Frisbee game on the video. The game can be played with plastic bottles or even a cool new Kern River Brewing Co. beer can. See more about Scott's video productions at his web site and on Facebook.

Check out the big selection of New and Used Kayaks on Sale! Get a new boat for the 2017 kayaking season! Bring in your old kayak and we will sell it for you. Really, how many dinosaurs do you need in your garage?

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. Make your 2017 SUP Class reservations today!

Sierra South has been running raft trips, and teaching kayaking classes on the Kern River since 1985. The 2017 season will mark our 32nd year on the Kern River!

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.

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.

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.

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.


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)
06OCT2017 0900 352 87 5.25 284 1080 1080 0 204,783 --
Kern Flow Info Current
(15 min)
5 Day Plot 10 Day Plot Month WY '17 WY '16 WY '15 WY '14
Weather NWS NWS Zones CNN Weather Underground Satellite Radar Kernville RAWS Democrat RAWS

*Flow values from SCE web site. Flow below Democrat Dam is from SCE's Flow Phone at 877-537-6356 or 760-376-8821.

**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.

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

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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