This is a scenic section of the Kern that is especially popular because it has dependable flows through the summer months. There are steep and exciting class 3 to 4 drops spread evenly over the run, but there are also long sections of slow scenic floating. The clean granite cliffs along much of the reach are beautiful and impressive. There are also several hot springs along the run, but most are on private property.
Permits are required for each boat that goes down the river. Permits must be picked up in person at the ranger station. Rangers usually monitor the put in. Put in: Miracle Hot Springs area offers plenty of day use parking, There will usually be a ranger there to check your permits and give advice. google map.Take out: A good gravel road leads from the main highway down to the Democrat Take out. There are signs at the turn off. There is a parking area for private boaters on the right. There are toilets but no potable water at the take out. There are a few picnic tables over looking the river. The take out ramp is shared by commercial outfitters, and private boaters. Vehicles can park near the ramp for loading only. Buses need to turn around so leave plenty of space for everybody. google map.Other Information Sources:CampingWikipediaKern River FestivalKern River AllianceKern Valley River CouncilAudubon, Kern River PreserveWild and Scenic KernSequoia National Forest Kernville office phone # 760-376-3781Sierra South store
Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Alan BatyFERC relicensing of Borel Powerhouse: The Borel powerhouse project received a new federal license in May of 2006. The powerhouse generates electricity and profits from a public resource, the Kern river. Project licenses can run 30 to 50 years and must undergo a public process whenever they are renewed. The public has the right to impose conditions on the project in exchange for the use of the public resource.
As part of the new license issued by FERC on May 17, 2006, SCE is mandated to release boatable flows into upstream bypassed reach.
The Kern WaterMaster and the Kern Water Users (several irrigation districts and the city of Bakersfield) have strongly objected to this license condition. They are pressuring SCE, the Forest Service and the outfitters into accepting capital improvements at the Democrat take out rather than supplemental boating flows in this reach. A compromise solution that involved SCE helping to fund improvements to the Kernville whitewater park along with Democrat improvements was discussed, but fell through in January of 2009 when SCE and AW did not reach a final agreement.
The FERC project number is P-382. Documents about this project can be found on the web at ferc.gov using the ‘‘RIMS’’ link, select ‘‘Docket#’’ and follow the instructions (call 202–208–2222 for assistance).Links to important documents: Extension of Time for boating release agreement.Objections of Kern Water Users to boating flowsNew license doucument, Granted May 17, 2008Army Corp objections to boating releasesComments by American Whitewater and Sierra Club
Releases from Isabella reservoir are totally controlled by the Kern River Water Master and the Army Corp of Engineers. Flows are used for irrigation in the San Joaquin Valley through out the spring, summer and sometimes into fall. Irrigation needs change primarily by season, but also somewhat day to day. Flow records show that releases are often adjusted once a day. In recent years, weekend flows have sometimes been significantly lower than weekday flows.
Releases can come directly from the main dam and from the Borel powerhouse upstream of the put in. Borel does not control the flow but can only utilize the water that is released by the Water Master. Borel does not pulse the flows as is typical on many other rivers. This is because there is no reservoir downstream which could re regulate the flows to a pattern suitable for irrigation needs.
The graph above sometimes shows sudden spikes or drops in flow with an equally sudden return to the previous flow. It is not clear if these are actual flow changes or gauge errors.
Flow data is provided by the Army Corp of Engineers, at Isabella info
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
White Maidens: lower half
White Maidens: upper half
Miracle Hot Springs put-in 2
Miracle Hot Springs put-in
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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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