Wind Sports in the Kern River Valley Wind Sports on Lake Isabella


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Wind Sports: Kiteboard, Wing, Foil, Windsurf

Wing Foiling Lake Isabella  
The newest sport on the lake: Wing Foiling!  

Lake Isabella gets wind; a lot of heavy wind.

If it's blowing steady from the south, forget everything and get to the lake. Nothing else matters...

Nothing but buttery wind, power, and the freedom to shred it whichever way you choose.

On days like that, a diverse and dedicated tribe of kiters and windsurfers predictably converge on the lake for a Southern Sierra style surf session.

But be aware: this place can rock the heavy winds, it can be ultra gusty with tornado-like wind currents, it can get crowded with shore-lined motorhomes and drunk fisherman who - for reasons unknown - are attracted to the windiest spots on the lake, it can have sketchy launches, little room for error and no one to save you.

But if you are comfortable with these conditions, it also can sometimes be as-good-as-it-gets perfection!

Kiteboarder on Lake Isabella
Carving up Lake Isabella with the power of a kite.

Where to Windsurf and Kiteboard

The best spot for consistent wind is at Old Isabella near the Auxiliary Dam in the town of Lake Isabella. It's actually just downwind of the Old Isabella Recreation Site (a.k.a. Ghetto), where you need a Rocky Mountain recreation day (or annual) pass. Kern County also requires a $30 nonmotorized use permit for boards.

This is the place to be when the wind is blowing from the South. The websites,, use a wind meter at the upper parking area here. Its usually fairly accurate, but expect heavier winds out in the lake.

Note that the nearby Forest Service wind meters are not very accurate for the kiting/windsurfing locations.

Windsurfering Lake Isabella Kite Lake Isabella wind
Windsurfers loving the big Spring wind. An evening kiteboarding session.

In the spring especially, the tendency is for the wind to turn Southwest. Unfortunately the wind gets gusty once there is too much West in it.

Depending on how West it's blowing, there are other spots to try out. Coves west of Red's Marina, Kissack Bay, and Robinson Cove all can have good wind if the conditions are right. Depending on the lake's water level, the launches can range from sort-of-ok to horribly dangerous.

Lonely Kiteboard Session at Lake Isabella
The only person on the lake during this late season shred session at Old Isabella Recreation Site.

Primary Launch Sites

Lake Isabella Launches - Kite and Wing and Windsurfing
Courtesy of Lake Isabella Windsurfing Facebook page.

NOTE: Most kiteboarders launch from Old Isabella Rec Area.

Winsurfers on Lake Isabella  
Sailing with a backdrop of Split Mtn.  

The Seasons

Spring. In a usual Spring, the lake gets heavy wind and blows almost everyday. It can get really gusty, but this is when the most windsurfers show up. A common kite size is 8m or less.

Summer. There are days with the heavy winds, but it starts to steady and mellow out a bit. 8m-12m kites are the usual size range. If wind is in the forecast, there seems to be about a 50/50 chance of a good South direction.

Fall. Everybody leaves and you have the place to yourself! Depending on the year, the wind can be the steadiest and most fun during this time. 10m-12m kites.

Winter. How bad do you want it?

Early winter can actually be surprisingly good with incoming and outgoing fronts, but bring your drysuit! You will certainly have it all to yourself!

A video of Kiteboarders on the lake in the Fall.  

Kiting lake Isabella

Wind Conditions on Lake Isabella Sensor at ranger station above dam / not super accurate for lake

Wind Forecast for Lake Isabella Wind directions are not usually accurate.


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Kernville Adventure Map

Lake locations and wind sports are depicted on the Kern River Sierra adventure map:

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