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Difficulty II-III
Length 8 Miles
Gauge Kern Above Borel Powerhouse
Flow Range 300 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 8 months ago 471 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 12/22/2019 12:12 am

River Description

This section of the lower Kern is easier than the downstream Miracle  to Democrat section and equally scenic. The river flows past low granite cliffs in a narrow but deep bedrock channel. There are long sections of flatwater paddling, broken up by some class 2 rapids, but there are also several serious class 3 to 3+ rapids.

Other Information Sources:

Dreamflows guides:  Kern - Jungle Run

Kern River Festival
Kern River Alliance
Kern Valley River Council
Audubon, Kern River Preserve
Wild and Scenic Kern
Sequoia National Forest Kernville office phone # 760-376-3781
Lower Kern Guide Book - Jungle Run Section

Cassady & Calhoun, Martin, Alan Baty

Links to important documents:
Extension of Time for boating release agreement.
Objections of Kern Water Users to boating flows
New license doucument, Granted May 17, 2008
Army Corp objections to boating releases
Comments by American Whitewater and Sierra Club

The 2006 Order requires a minimum instream fish release ranging from 25 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 60 cfs, depending upon the time of year. However, because the original intake works of the Borel Project have been inundated by the storage in the Isabella Reservoir, the fish releases from Isabella Reservoir are under the control of the Corps and the Isabella Partners Hydro Project (FERC Project No. 8377), located at the base of the Isabella main dam. Therefore, these flow releases are made on behalf of the licensee by an agreement signed by the licensee and the Corps on April 23, 1999, as amended on September 1, 2006, and by Isabella Partners (IP) under the direction of the Corps.




Rapid Descriptions

Wallow Rock

Class - Mile - 1
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Dilly / Nippopotamus

Class - III Mile - 2.5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Oscar's Nightmare

Class - III Mile - 3
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

Sandy Flat

Class - Mile - 6
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

River Access

Hobo Rapid

Class - III Mile - 7
Rapid Thumbnail Missing


Gage Descriptions

Daily Flows Realtime Flows Dreamflows Home
Show 30 Days ------------------ Show 3 Years

Minimum boatable flows in this reach are around 300 cfs. Since the Borel Powerhouse diverts about 600 cfs, releases from Isabella Reservoir need to be at least 900 cfs before this section is boatable. The graph above shows the amount of water remaining in the river after the powerhouse diversion. 
Flow information is provided by the Army Corp of Engineers, at Isabella info

New minimum instream flows are 25 cfs from November through April, 30 cfs in May and October, and 60 cfs from June through September.


A USGS schematic map of inflows, diversions, storage and gauges is in this Kern River Basin, pdf file.
Historic flow information is available for the years 1945 to 1993 from USGS gauge #11191000.

The Army Corp has links to historical reservoir information (inflows, outflows, storage, & precipitation, from 1995) at this California Reservoirs page.    You can view either graphs or tabulated data.   The flow in this reach is listed in the second column from the right as Isabella, in the tabulated data.  It is listed as Kern Isabella in the graphs. 

Directions Description


Date Flow Result Factor  
1998-07-06 High Fatality Other Read More
1997-07-20 Low Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More



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Sierra & Sequoia National Forest Management Plans (CA)

Theresa Simsiman

The U.S. Forest Service recently released the revised Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Draft Forest Plans (DFP) for the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests. As part of this process, National Forests are required to identify the eligibility of rivers for inclusion into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Once a river is found eligible it is managed to protect the values that support their inclusion. To that end, American Whitewater has identified recreation as an outstandingly remarkable value on many iconic whitewater rivers within the Sierra and Sequoia National Forest and is advocating for their inclusion into the inventory of eligible Wild & Scenic Rivers. Dinkey Creek Photo by Daniel Lundberg

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AW Recommends California Rivers for Wild and Scenic

Megan Hooker

Last week, American Whitewater recommended that the U.S. Forest Service assess whether numerous whitewater rivers in California are eligible for Wild and Scenic status. The agency is currently revising Forest Plans for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, and this process provides an opportunity to evaluate rivers for whether they are eligible for Wild and Scenic designation. If a river is found eligible through this process, the Forest Service protects the values that could make it worthy for Wild and Scenic designation, including its free-flowing characteristics. 
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Comments on the Borel Hydroproject, Kern River (CA)

John Gangemi

American Whitewater and the local Sierra Club River Touring Chapter filed comments on Southern California Edison’s application for a new license for the Borel Hydroelectric Project.  This filing is part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process for this project.  American Whitewater and the Sierra Club River Touring Chapter have participated in this relicense process since August 2000.  This relicense proceeding is a 5.5 year commitment. 

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Boater's Alert: Comments Needed for Borel Hydro project, Kern River California

John Gangemi

Southern California Edison has released the Draft Application for the new license for the Borel Hydropower Project on the Kern River. The new license will set instream flow conditions for the Kern River below Isabella Reservoir for the next 30 to 50 years. Your participation/comments are important. American Whitewater encourages boaters to review the license application and file comments.

Thomas O'Keefe


Matt Volpert


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1205323 10/13/15 Thomas O'Keefe FERC license language moved to project page
1214064 12/22/19 Matt Volpert updated stats
1214065 12/22/19 Matt Volpert updated name
1214067 12/22/19 Matt Volpert updated description
1214066 12/22/19 Matt Volpert updated description
1190014 01/09/09 n/a