Campgrounds for Fishing Kern River

Kern River roaring in Sequoia National Forest
Photo by Mattia Bericchia on Unsplash

The Kern River is probably best known for its white water rafting. HOWEVER did you know this place has epic fishing and camping options?

Camping and fishing, with one comes the other. Kern river in the spring and summer is the perfect spot to get your line wet and enjoy the California sunshine. Far enough out of the big cities to feel like a proper trip but close enough to where you aren’t in a car for an entire day. With sites right on the river there are great campgrounds for fishing Kern River.

A small town, beautiful scenery, top notch fishing and plentiful campsites make up the Kernville area. There are plenty of options for tent, RV, trailer and vanlife camping in Kern River to go along with the boundless home rental options. Just about all the lodging and camping options on the Kern are located right off of Mountain Highway 99 which leads all the way to the Giant Sequoias the Sequoia name is synonymous with.

We’re going to focus on our 3 favorite Campgrounds for fishing Kern River:

  • Headquarters
  • Camp Three
  • Hospital Flat

Headquarters Campground Campground

Headquarters is the nearest of the three to Kernville proper where you can find a pizza joint, gas, convenience stores and a place to eat if you can’t catch a native or stock trout. A convenience store is a walkable distance from the campground.

Kernville has a very barren and desert type environment, especially when compared to the rest of Sequoia with its dense forests and Giant Sequoia trees. Headquarters itself has unique fauna and flora, this campground has a jurassic park type feel with unique trees and bushes when compared to the other campgrounds. Here’s a pretty weak photo that gives you a feel for what I’m talking about:

Headquarters campground Kern River
Headquarters Campground Kern River

There are two main fishing spots at Headquarters where we have been successful: the main beach area and the southern tip of the campground. The main beach is a spot you can’t miss, its right at the middle of the grounds. The beach basically spans two sites in Loop A; sites 23-27 should be your target. If that spot is burned then walk to the most southern spot and keep following the trail. You’ll eventually hit water and probably a bit of seclusion to try your hand in another great spot for some trout.

Camp Three Campground

Camp Three Campground Kern River
Camp Three launch pad area

About a mile or so upstream is Camp Three. A different landscape than Headquarters and a bit more rugged. Most of the riverside campsites have a slope and minimal actual “beach” space.

There are two main fishing spots at this campground. My favorite is off of a big rock off of the southern loop. There is also a river rafting launch ramp 20 yards downstream with some decent fishing and hangout zones.

Depending on how the flow of the killer Kern is there will be another good spot at a site in the middle of the campground, the site has a great secluded beach for activities and fishing. Spot number is evading me.

If fishing is your main priority at Camp Three then get up early and head south, find the rock and beach and post up.

Hospital Flat Campground

The furthest north of my three suggested campgrounds is Hospital flat. Furthest away from the town but close to other great fishing spots north of the campgrounds. Personally my least favorite as it is a little more compact and there’s minimal shade, but no real issues!


Those are just 3 of the many campgrounds on the Kern River. Theres plenty of house rental options (my wishlist of Kernville VRBO properties), private campgrounds, group campgrounds and even motels in and around the Kernville area. All of these campgrounds can be reserved at www.recreation.gov.

Respect and enjoy the Kern and I have no doubt you’ll come home with at least 1 trout!

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