Thursday afternoon we packed and were on the road to Frandy Park Campground for a weekend of fun at Kernville Kampout. Kernville Campout is an annual motorcycle ride hosted by Biltwell at the Kern River. It’s a weekend dedicated to riding motorcycles with your friends and having fun.
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Kernville Kampout is an annual motorcycle event hosted by Biltwell. As Biltwell shared with atendees, “The Kernville Kampout is a very simple motorcycle event. It’s nothing like Sturgis or any other large contemporary “rally”. Basically, Biltwell rents out the entire campground, hires a band or two, a couple food trucks, and buys a ton of libations from Sailor Jerry and 805 Beer. There are no vendors selling trinkets you don’t need and there will be no crappy $20 corn dogs. Camping is first come, first served and everyone is encouranged to share the same space. Town is easy walking distance from camp so there’s no reason to drink and ride.” It’s a weekend dedicated to riding motorcycles and having fun with your friends.
A night spent in Atwater Village
Thursday afternoon we loaded up three bikes and a chase truck full of cold beers, bratwursts, and firewood and began the trek to Kernville. We made our way to Atwater Village in Los Angeles for the night to crash on a friend’s couch before continuing the journey to the Kern River in the morning. We ended up at a bar called The Bigfoot Lodge which set the tone for the weekend; the local treasure “billows with mountainous roadhouse comforts that remind you of a simpler time and place.” The wood-paneled walls are adorned by taxidermy and people sat around drinking beers and New York Sours while enjoying the fireside atmosphere provided by The Bigfoot Lodge. There are plenty of other local gems in the area. If you’re looking for a great burger go across the street to The Morrison and try the Morrison Filet Burger… half pound beef patty, seared filet mignon, creamy port salut cheese, marrow butter, and celery mix . You’ll be happy you did. If you go to The Morrison, make sure you leave a little room for their famous Butterscotch Bread Pudding for dessert. It was voted “LA’s Best” and we don’t disagree.
Traveling to Kernville
We slept very little and woke up early on Friday morning to continue the journey to Kernville Kampout. 8am chorizo breakfast sandwiches and a beer is the best way to start a weekend of camping. It was 72 and sunny and everyone was anxious to get on the road. It was a whole highway of places we’d never seen and wilderness we’d never explored. The route transformed from empty Mojave desert to brightly colored buttes and rock formations as we rode through Red Rock Canyon State Park. Lizards nestled themselves on the edge of rust and cream colored rocks, basking in the sun. There was a strong headwind that pulled at our helmets as we traveled through the wind carved canyons. The road cut through desert cliffs and pillars towered above on all sides. Photographs cannot begin to capture the expansiveness of the terrain or the spectrum of colors. The wide stretches of nothingness seem to be the most freeing. There’s nothing besides you and the wind licking at your heels and the rattling hum of motorcycles.
The horizon transformed into rolling hills lined with yellow wildflowers and changing autumn colors painted the skyline. We passed through Owen’s Peak Wilderness, the rugged eastern face of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Untouched by humans, a wide variety of plant and animal life flourish here. Scattered yuccas, cacti, cottonwood, and oak trees thrive in the lower elevations. An abundance of sagebrush and juniper-pinyon woodlands dominate the higher elevations in Owen’s Peak Wilderness. Lake Isabella sits to the left as we wind our way to Frandy Park Campground. Sunlight glinted off the trout-filled waters below.
Kernville Kampout : Day One
Multi-colored tents and bikes dotted the campgrounds. We stopped by the registration booth to pick up goody bags, courtesy of Biltwell and other sponsors, before setting up camp. The campgrounds were exclusively reserved for motorcycles and tent camping (trucks and cars stayed by the registration booth up front). The sites were first come, first serve; quiet a few people arrived to stake out their spot on Thursday night or arrived early on Friday. Don’t be afraid of arriving early if you’re looking for a specific spot.
Everyone is welcome at this event, regardless of what you ride in on. It’s fun walking around the campgrounds and seeing everything from show class Shovelheads to ratty Sporters that are leaking oil all over the ground. It’s definitely preferred that you bring your custom bike or chopper, but you don’t have to be afraid of being the odd-man-out if that’s not your style.
We got to camp around 1 pm and the majority of people had already set up camp for the weekend. Biltwell was nice enough to have a few guys with side by sides available to help carry in gear to the campsites if you brought a chase truck and needed some help. They also provided some firewood to campsites to get you started for the night which came in handy.
At 5pm, everyone rushed to the bar for free 805 beer and Sailor Jerrys. They opened up food trucks and had t-shirts and other merch available for those that wanted a keepsake from the event. The bar was open until 10 so you could come and go as you pleased and grab free drinks until then. *Tip: Don’t rely on drinking on Biltwell’s tab all weekend. We had plenty of drinks at the campsite, but it was nice to grab a free beer and walk around the campgrounds and talk to everyone.* Night one they had an arm wrestling competition anyone could compete in as well.
Towards the end of the night, we settled in back at camp and grilled some bratwursts. We spent time hanging out with our neighbors and got to know them better. It’s always nice making new friends at these events; it’s a pretty small community of people so we seem to run into people we’ve met before every time we come. We ended the night with s’mores over an open fire.
Kernville Kampout : Day Two
I think everyone at Kernville Kampout woke up a little sleep deprived and needing coffee in the morning. We had a long night of good times, but didn’t get much sleep. After grabbing coffee from BlackCat Motocycles & Coffee, we spent some time around camp and then rode to town a few minutes away. The town is walking distance from Frandy Park Campgrounds (or about a two minute ride if you’re too lazy to walk). We grabbed a few beers at Kernville Saloon before making our way back.
Biltwell reccomended Silver City , Trail of a Hundred Giants, river rafting, fishing, Kernville Saloon along with other local bars, cafes, and brewery, and Lake Isabella as some must see attractions for the weekend. It’s a sleepy little town by Frandy Park Campgrounds and a great place to unwind after a long night. We did some serious prep-work before coming to Kernville Kampout so we had chili ready in the Yeti cooler back at the campsite. We got everyone back at camp fed and then made our way to the river. We lucked out with weather; it was in the 70s and sunny most of the weekend.
While we were at the river, we ended up running into an old friend we had made at Hooligan Hoedown back in 2016. Flashing back to 2016 — it was pouring rain (and you know choppers aren’t very reliable in the rain) so we decided to start our ride home without our crew before we ran into electrical issues. We were freezing, our clothes were wet, and I had broken foot pegs. We ended up running into this guy at a gas station off the highway who was also alone and happened to have some tools. He saved the day and ended up riding all the way back to LA with us and we grabbed pizza at BJ’s while we were waiting on our group to catch up. Fast forward to 2018 and we’re sitting in Kern River reminiscing. Small world.
4pm and the bike show and M.O.T.O. Fam Dunk Tank started by the bar area followed by Tug-o-war (and of course, more free beer and Sailor Jerry’s at the bar). It cooled down as the sun set and we made some steaks back at camp. It rained for a few hours on Saturday night and everyone huddled around their fires staying warm. We decided to go check out the music up at the stage and make some s’mores at the campfire Biltwell had up top at the Frandy Park Campgrounds. The Ryholite Sound played first at the stage and then Thee Cormans. The strobe lights lit up the pouring rain and the night was complete with electrical issues while Thee Cormans were playing – courtesy of the rain, some boobies, and a mosh pit. If you missed it, I’m sorry.
Kernville Kampout : Day Three
We woke up in the morning and grabbed tri-tip breakfast burritos at one of the food trucks before packing up and heading out for the weekend. We had a great weekend at Kernville Kampout and look forward to next year. Thanks Biltwell!