Kern Canyon Road

Driving the funny, but dangerous, Kern Canyon Road

Kern Canyon Road is a very scenic but dangerous journey located in Kern County, in the U.S. state of California. If you enjoy twists and turns, this is a great option.

How long is the Kern Canyon Road?

Located in the Southern Sierra Nevada, the Kern Canyon Road (CA Highway 178) is asphalted but narrow with sharp turns and steep drop offs running along the Kern River. The road is 64km (40 miles) long, running from Bakersfield to Lake Isabella. It was completed in 1931. The drive features lots of curves and tight lanes till you hit the 4 lane, half-way through the canyon.

Is the Kern Canyon Road dangerous?

It’s a very fun road but dangerous. Drivers must remain cautious as the journey has been known to claim the lives of careless drivers. It’s currently ranked as one of the top five most dangerous roads in California. Due to the treacherous nature of the road, it has seen an above average number of traffic accidents and fatalities through the Kern River Canyon. Seventeen fatal accidents have occurred in the Canyon since 1978.

Why is the Kern River so dangerous?

This route is not recommended if your passengers are prone to car sickness. Don’t stuff your belly too much. The road features a high risk of rock slides. The journey is a combination of rocky cliffs, river (dam controlled) and dramatic vistas. The road is a delight to drive, with every kind of twist and turn. Swimming in the Kern River is dangerous and not recommended. Powerful currents, cold water temperatures, and underwater hazards such as fallen trees and rocks, can trap even the strongest swimmers.


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