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Lake Isabella

Lake Isabella, near the dam, 6/8/12

Lake Isabella is located in Kern County.  It is formed by a dam built where the North and South forks of the Kern River meet, completed in 1953, creating a lake surface of more than 11,000 acres.  The original towns of Kernville and Isabella are on what is now the lake bottom.  Kernville was moved to its present location North of the lake while some residents created what is now the town of Wofford Heights.  Isabella was moved to what is now the town of Lake Isabella. 



Afternoon winds across Lake Isabella make it a popular spot for windsurfing and parasailing.  Boating, jet skis, fishing, and camping along the lake shores are also among the recreational opportunities.  The surrounding area recreation includes white water rafting on the Kern, hiking, fishing plus many other campgrounds are found along the Kern River.  Just to the North is Sequoia National Monument.

South Fork Wildlife Area

On the South side of the lake is South Fork Wildlife Area, a 1271 acre cottonwood/willow riparian habitat.  The wildlife area is a unit of Sequoia National Forest, accessible via Sierra Way or Hwy 178 on the East and South sides of Lake Isabella.  How to get there, click here and see “directions” on the Sierra Nevada GeoTourism website.  Also near South Fork Wildlife Area (accessible by the town of Weldon) is the privately owned Audubon Kern River Preserve, which one side borders South Fork.  The wildlife in this area includes over 315 species of birds, butterflies, raccoons, beaver, deer, bobcat and even an occasional mountain lion or bear. 

South Fork Wildlife Area

For a little area history, in Bodfish (just outside the town of Lake Isabella) is Silver City Ghost Town.  Some say ghosts are really found here, the Apalatea-Burlando house is listed as 6th most haunted spot in America by the national directory of haunted places book.  Silver City Ghost Town is not in its original location; this attraction consists of a collection from all over the Kern River Valley.  Buildings are not very modified or renovated; most are left more in original condition. 

Silver City Ghost Town

External Links: 

County of Kern, Lake Isabella Info, Fees & Permits:


Lake Isabella Campground Map (click the names to redirect to reservation link):


Kern River Valley History:


Lake Isabella visiting info, Lake Isabella Online:


South Fork Wildlife Area info:



Audubon Kern River Preserve:


Silver City Ghost Town:


Places Nearby:

Sequoia National Monument, Trail of 100 Giants