Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The site of Old Kernville is interesting in that it became a ghost town when the town was inundated by the waters of Lake Isabella in the 1950s after the army dammed the lake. California's prolonged drought conditions have since lowered the lake levels enough that the remains of the town have re-emerged from beneath its waters.

The area - once known as Whiskey Flat - became a town during the Gold Rush era, eventually becoming a popular filming location for westerns with its arid landscape and backdrop of mountainous surroundings. The town developed an area called "Movie Street" constructed to resemble a previous era for use by film crews.

Following World War II, much of the town was moved and rebuilt a short distance away after the army took control of the land in order to construct a dam on the Kern River that would put much of the area underwater. In 1954 the waters of the newly dammed Lake Isabella submerged the land that was Kernville. Decades later, prolonged drought conditions have lowered the levels of Lake Isabella to the point where some of the old building foundations that were underwater have re-emerged, out criscrossed by dirt roads and open for day use visiting.

There is not much in the area - no signage or amenities for visitors. One can get a sense of how large Lake Isabella was at one time by how far from the sloped roadside the water is today. Visitors should look up directions to the abandoned buildings from the road before visiting.

Several prominent foundations can be seen. The largest one is the cement foundation of the old elementary school. Tucked behind some trees are the old steps of the Odd Fellows Hall. On a hillside are the remains of the old fire station. All of these remained underwater for years.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass



Historical remains. Interesting history.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Historically significant
Family friendly
Near lake or river



Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.