Just got back from a whitewater rafting trip to Kernville, aka the middle of nowhere, but with that being said, the middle of nowhere is sometimes where you find the best things. Depending on where you are driving from (for us it was the closest whitewater rafting area, so it was a no-brainer), it takes awhile to get there. We went Father’s Day weekend and let me tell ya- make sure you have everything reserved if you are planning on visiting on a holiday or celebratory weekend. It may be the middle of nowhere, but they still get busy! TIP: If you are coming from Southern California, there is one small town of Inyokern that you want to make sure you are heading through and to go down that looonnngg road and turn LEFT towards Los Angeles. This is very important because we got lost for a good half an hour here. The drive itself is mainly through small towns and deserts, so be sure to pack a lot of snacks and water- cold water makes the difference. The latter part of the trip consists of curvy mountain roads with trees and a lake.
—– HOTELS —–
Once getting to Kernville, I originally wanted to stay at the Kern Lodge, but all the rooms were booked. It seemed cute with a giant chess and checkers set and being right next to the Brewery. Our next choice, which was also busy, was the Riverview Lodge, on the main street where basically the whole town is. I stayed here before and it was your average small town hotel, nothing special, but within walking distance of everything. TIP: If you cannot find a hotel to stay at in the main town, look a little further north. We ended up staying 15 minutes north of Kernville at the hotel that used to be The Golden Trout Resort and is now called Corral Creek Resort. It was actually great for the four of us- 2 queen sized beds with a little kitchen and air conditioning. The price was great too- $120 per night, perfect for a one night stay.
—– FOOD —–In terms of the restaurants there, the locals recommended “That’s Italian,” “The Pizza Barn” and “Kernville Brewery.” We tried walking into the Italian place mentioned above and were told that there would be a 15 minute wait when there were clearly enough tables for us. I’m not sure what the problem was, but I felt like we were being discriminated against for some reason. The Pizza Barn had a 20 minute wait as well, but they were actually busy, so we moved on to the Brewery. I thought the atmosphere was fun, laid back and their homemade root beer was pretty great too. The waffle fries were great! We went to the Kernville Saloon later because there’s nothing like telling people that you went to a saloon in Kernville. It just sounds like the beginning to a great story. A lot of locals do go here, so they all know each other and it was alittle awkward. It was still an experience though. TIP: You have to try the shaved ice on the main road!! You can’t miss it really. They have a little truck with a homemade sign parked at the corner of one of the streets. The price is very reasonable and you get a good sized portion too. I’ve had a lot of shaved ice in my days, and you can definitely tell a difference if the ice is not that great and crunchy or has the great soft and fluffy quality. Tell the lady that runs the place I say hello if you go there!
—– RAFTING —–
We did the “Big Water Run” through Whitewater Voyages and it was fun. I would recommend just doing the half day adventure though. It’s cheaper and you don’t spend an hour or so just eating lunch. The trip is a class III-IV and varies each time you go, based on the water level. The lower part of the Kern is fed by a dam, so the rapids are pretty consistent. Many times though, the upper Kern is too low because it is run by natural water flow. There are a couple of scary rapids on the Big Water Run and even though they say you can take a 9-year old, I think I would wait until they are about 12 or 13 for this one. There are several points where you just float along the river and they let you jump out of the boat, which was pretty fun. Even if you are pretty fit, you will be sore at the end of the trip. I’ve done other rafting trips where the rapids were more continuous, but if you are looking for a whitewater experience with several calm water breaks, then you would enjoy this trip.