Headquarters Campground

Kern River - Sequoia National Forest


Kern River at Headquarters Campground


Headquarters Campground, Kern River, CA

Headquarters Campground

Lake Isabella & the Kern River
Attractions and Activities

Lake Isabella draws people to its broad waters for fishing and boating. Upstream of the lake the Kern River provides good places to camp and fish. Visitors at Headquarters Campground have nice views of the river.

  • Check out local rafting companies for a white-water rafting trip on the Kern River.
  • Cast your line into the Kern River.
  • At Lake Isabella spend the day waterskiing and wakeboarding.
  • Visit either of the lake's two marinas to rent a boat, or launch your own.
  • At Lake Isabella fish for bass, rainbow and brown trout, crappie, kokanee salmon, and catfish.
  • Tour the Kern Valley Museum.
  • Get in a round of golf at the Kern Valley Golf Course.
  • Explore Silver City Ghost Town.
  • Visit the Kern River Fish Hatchery.

Key Headquarters Campground Regulations

  1. ATVs or OHVs are not permitted anywhere around Lake Isabella or in Kern River campgrounds.
  2. Campfires must be at least 25 feet from the water's edge.
  3. Dogs must be kept on leash in the campground and attended at all times.
  4. Water may still be in short supply after California's drought.

Headquarters Campground

Headquarters Campground is located along the Kern River in the Sequoia National Forest, 4 miles upstream from Kernville. The campground is 7 miles from Lake Isabella. Visitors to the campground enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting in the Kern River. Swimming in the river is very dangerous because of strong currents. Nearby Lake Isabella has boating, waterskiing, windsurfing, and fishing. The Kern River canyon can be quite hot in the summer.

Headquarters Campground has 44 campsites. Some campsites overlook the Wild and Scenic Kern River and are in the shade of cottonwood, oak, and juniper trees. Campsites located farther from the river have little or no shade. A dozen of the campsites are designated for tents only. Another 21 campsites are designated for RVs or trailers only. Two campsites can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. The campground also has a Yurt available.

Headquarters Campground Basics
Headquarters Campground Location: Sierra Way/Mountain 99, 4 miles north of Kernville
Elevation: 2,800 feet
Mileage from Gateway City: Bakersfield - 54 miles
Number of Sites: 44
Open - Closed: May - September
Max. People per Site: 6 (including children)
Vehicles per Site: 2 (fee for 2nd vehicle)
Pets: On leash, always attended
Campground Information: (760) 376-1815
Kern River Ranger District: (760) 379-5646

Reservations at Headquarters Campground
Reservations available: whenever campground is open
Booking Window: Reservations can be made from 3 days up to 6 months in advance of arrival date.
Maximum RV/Trailer Length: 27 feet
Wheelchair Accessible Sites: Not designated, but there is one accessible campsite
Fees: $25 per night ($27 on holiday weekends)
Yurt - $75 per night
Reservations: Headquarters Campground Reservations
Check-in, check-out: 2:00 PM, check-out Noon

Headquarters Campground Amenities
Campsites: Picnic table, fire ring with grill; no hook-ups
Campground: Vault toilets, tap water
Showers: No
Dump station: No
Campground Map: Headquarters Campground Map
Attractions near Headquarters Campground: Check out Cannell Meadow National Recreation Trailhead. Enjoy the Kern River at Riverkern Beach Picnic Area. Head down to Lake Isabella for fishing and boating. Visit the North Fork Marina with store and boat rentals. Try mountain biking or hiking. Tour the Lake Isabella Visitor Center. Drive north to the Trail of 100 Giants, an accessible walk through Long Meadow Grove of Giant Sequoias.

Yurt at Headquarters Campground, Kern River, CA

Headquarters Campground Yurt

General Camping Information for
Sequoia National Forest

Opening and closing dates of campgrounds are only estimates, usually dependent on snow conditions. Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. Check carefully on the website when you make your reservation to be sure your vehicle will fit your campsite.

In order to prevent the spread of invasive insects, firewood should be obtained locally.

Accessible Sites

Designated Accessible sites are usually reserved for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate.

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