Lake Isabella is a man-made
earthen reservoir in Kern County,
California created by Isabella Dam.
It was formed in 1953 when the U.S. Army Corps of
dammed the Kern River
the junction of its two forks at Whiskey Flat. At 11,000 acres
(45 km²), it is one of the largest reservoirs in California.
The area is in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada
range and the lake itself
is located in low mountains at an elevation of approximately 2,500
feet (760 m) where summer temperatures reach over 100 degrees (°F)
but low enough to avoid winter snows on the surrounding ridges.
Isabella is located about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of
Bakersfield, and is the main water supply for that city.
Isabella can be reached by car from Bakersfield via state Highway 178 and from Delano via Highway
155. The former town of Kernville was flooded by the newly created
In 2006, Isabella Dam was found to be too unstable to hold a full
amount of water and approximately 40% of a full reservoir had to be
let out to restabilize the earth works. Presently the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers won't let the water get above 60% of capacity
until an estimated 10-15 years of studies and repairs are made. To
further add to this problem the Isabella Dam bisects an active
fault that could lead to a catastrophic failure if an earthquake
occurs along it. This fault was considered inactive when the site
was studied in the late 1940s.
The lake is a dividing point. Upper Kern River
flows into Lake Isabella, Lower Kern River
out of the dam and toward Bakersfield. The nearby towns of
Isabella and Kernville receive economic benefit from tourism created by
the Lake Isabella Recreation Area and the whitewater rafting attraction of the
Upper and Lower Kern River. Much of the wilderness surrounding the
lake is part of the Sequoia National Forest.
Image:California_Lake_Isabella2.jpg|Southern shore of Lake
southeast fork, taken from the northern shore; Weldon,
California is on the
Image:01-2007-LakeIsabella-fromEast.jpg|Facing west and
taken from the eastern shore between the
forks.Image:01-2007-LakeIsabella-South.jpg|Shore near town of Lake
Isabella.Image:Lake Isabella California eastern
portion.JPG|Mountain Mesa viewed from the north side of the
Image:Bodfish and Lake Isabella California.JPG|View of
the lake from the hills west of Bodfish.