Kern, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||51 fpm|
|Max Gradient||64 fpm|
|Kern Rel Lake Isabella|
|dream-105||1500 - 4000 cfs||IV||02h08m||190 cfs (too low)|
The Kern is class 4 boulder slalom immediately below the mouth of the canyon and past the diversion dam. The Rio Bravo Slalom races were held here every year in the 1970's and 1980's, as it was a wonderful race course. The owner of the Rio Bravo ranched hoped to hold the Olympic competition here during the Los Angeles Olympics. It would have been a tremendous boost to Kern river running. However, the Los Angeles Olympic committee, or USA Olympics decided to drop kayak slalom that year in favor of syncronized swimming. Subsequent Olympics reinstated kayak slalom and it has become a permanent Olympic sport. The loss was a big disappointment at the time.
Now, the Rio Bravo power project diverts up to 1200 cfs out of the river bed. FLows from Isabella will have to be quite a bit higher than that to provide good flows for boating.
There is a large parking area on the side of highway across from the PG&E powerplant at the mouth of the canyon. Hike down the bluff on rough trails to the river.
There is a river access parking area on the south west side of Rancheria Road bridge. Float under the bridge and immediately look for landing spots on river left.
|Mile||Rapid Name||Class||Features (Legend)|
|0.2||Portage at Dam||N/A|
|1.1||Boy Scout Rapid||IV|
|1.5||Fairly Steep Rock Garden||III+|
There is a fisherman's trail from the parking area down to the river.
Paddle across the small reservoir to the far side (river right) to portage the dam. It is an easy walk around the dam.
A continuous rock garden rapid starts immediately upon launching below the dam. The beginning of the rapid is the steepest and most congested. This rapid can get more difficult at higher flows. Class III-IV
There is a big hole to avoid at the bottom.
The river bends to the left and picks up speed above an island. Stay left as the water splits into two channels around this long island. The channel on river left is the obvious choice. The rapid is a fairly steep rock garden.
At the end of the long island above the river splits into three channels. Two go straight downstream to the left. However, you want to turn sharply back river right and the river will seem to turn as though it is going back up stream. This small channel cuts between the bottom of the upper island and the top of the lower island. It puts you on the right side of the lower island. The left side channels are brushy and obstructed.
Long, steep, unnamed rapid littered with boulders that will make for a challenging rapid at higher flows. This rapid is steepest at the bottom.
The river bends to the right and enters an easy chute. About 1/3 of the way through the rapid diversion water from the powerhouse will enter back into river from the left.
This is a small rapid often used as a good teaching location for new kayakers.
Small Rapid just before Rancheria Bridge