- Kern NWR is located in the historic Tulare Lake Basin. One hundred years ago, this area was covered by an inland lake and wetland complex totaling over 625,000 acres. Marsh habitat acreage varies from year to year because of limited water supply. The refuge is one of the few remaining wetlands left in the area. Over 50% of the refuge is diked impoundments for migrating and wintering waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh, and waterbirds in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
The Research Natural Area on the west side of the refuge provides over 2,000 acres of habitat for the endangered blunt-nosed leopard lizard, Tipton kangaroo rat, and San Joaquin kit fox. Some other species sighted at the refuge include southern bald eagles, American peregrine falcons, sandhill cranes, and white faced ibis. The refuge was established as a wintering area for ducks and geese that once numbered in the millions and depended on the natural marshes of the Tulare Lake Basin.
The refuge is intensively managed to produce habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and other waterbirds, including creation of marsh conditions and other diverse habitat production so the lands can provide a continuing food source for the birds. Food plants such as wild millet (watergrass) and swamp timothy are managed in a 1,200-acre area.
Colonel Allensworth State Park is located nearby on Highway 43, approximately 20 miles east of Kern NWR and 5 miles south of Pixley NWR. Tule Lake Elk Reserve is located 35 miles south of the refuge headquarters off Interstate 5.
Recreation - Recreation activities include wildlife observation, study, and photography, with the best viewing taking place from October until March. There is also a 6.5-mile self-guided auto tour open daily except during waterfowl hunting season. Waterfowl hunting is possible from October through January.
Kern NWR is open daily from dawn to dusk. Office hours are 8-4:30 weekdays, except holidays.
Climate - A generally warm, dry climate prevails in the Central Valley. It is hot in the summer, mid in the winter. In the Central Valley, precipitation falls mainly from October through April. Winter temperatures well below freezing produce frost, however, snow is very rare. Summer temperatures above 100 F are part of the normal pattern.
From Interstate 5, take Highway 46 east 5 miles to Corcoran Road and turn north. Drive 10.6 miles to the refuge at the intersection of Corcoran Road and
From Highway 99: At Delano, exit Highway 99 at Highway 155 exit. Turn south on 155, which is Garces Highway. Travel 19 miles west on Garces Highway to the refuge at the intersection of Corcoran Road and Garces Highway.