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Kern River Rafting & Kayaking River News, Flow and Weather

Kern Flows (COE) on Mar 27, 2017 @ 7:00 am • Upper: 2795 cfs • Lower Above Borel: 4160 cfs • Lower Below Borel: 4140 cfs

Evan Moore Scouts Triple Drop - Cataracts of the Kern February 24, 2017
Evan Moore scouts Triple Drop - Cataracts of the Kern February 24, 2017
Evan Moore Scouts Triple Drop
Cataracts of the Kern - February 24, 2017

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

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• Kern Festival 2013 Photos & Results
"Around the Kern" Resource Guide
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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 Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Important information about River Notes.

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

Kern River Raft Trips and Kayak Classes start March 18. Don't miss out on the best season since 1983. Make your Raft Trip and Kayaking Class reservations today!

How BIG is the Kern Basin snowpack this year? The March Sierra Snow Course measurements are in and with 12 of 14 courses reporting, the Kern River Basin snowpack is at 262% of normal for the date and 233% of the normal April 1 seasonal total! This is more than on March 1 in the big El Nino Winters of 1997-98 and 1982-83!

Kern Basin February Snow Courses

The heavy snow has resulted from a parade of atmospheric river events and systems with a broad, moist westerly flow. At times lower elevation rain and melting snow has 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.)

Soon that snow will begin to melt and water is being released from Lake Isabella to make room. Releases to the Lower Kern were increased in mid February and have been running around 4000-4100 cfs since February 25 and side creeks add a bit more. The Lower Kern Canyon is as pretty and green as we can remember. Kayakers have been running the Cataracts higher than ever before. It's is going to be a spectacular year!

Make your plans now, the 52nd Kern River Festival is April 21-23. This year's Kern River Festival will feature three days of non-stop action with the Brush Creek Extreme Race on Friday; the Wild & Scenic Triathlon, Mini-me Head-to-Head Raft Races, Children's Sidewalk Art Contest, Slalom practice, Gear Swap, Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday; and the Downriver SUP/Kayak Race, TJ Slalom & SUP Race, and Raffle on Sunday. Online registration is available on  PaddleGuru.

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.

The big snowpack and big water has already increased interest in 2017 paddling season, which should be the best in many years. Following is a video posted by Ivan Rodriguez of KERO 23ABC, with some comments by Sierra South co-owner Tom Moore.

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. Make your 2017 raft trip reservations today!

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?

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.

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! Make your 2017 Kayak Class reservations today!

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!

Evan Moore paddling in the North Fork Championship
Evan Moore paddling in the North Fork Championship Elite Race on Jacob's Ladder

Evan Moore, Sierra South kayak instructor/raft guide, and son of co-owner Tom Moore, recently competed in the hardest extreme kayak race in the world -- the North Fork Championship -- and crushed it! Three races on the North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho, with the premier race on the notorious class 5 Jacob's Ladder. Racing for the first time in the NFC, Evan placed 7th out of 99 to qualify. In the Boater X he pulled down a 4th place, and then finished 10th in the grand finale on Jacob's out of a field of the 30 best extreme kayakers on the planet. We are so proud of our homegrown talent.

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)
08MAR2017 0900 1054 484 7.03 1566 4080 4080 0 295,880 4194
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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