On occasion a business opens in Three Rivers and captures an underserved niche. That’s certainly the case at Kaweah Oaks Campground, located on the south side of Sierra Drive just across the highway from the River View Restaurant and Lounge.
Kaweah Oaks caters to the touring bicyclist who overnights in a tent. It’s a more grounded style of touring the USA, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds among fitness-conscious ‘Boomers and those who prefer to travel by pedal power.
The three-acre shaded parcel also contains a log-style vacation rental and currently offers six sites for camping. The campground opened officially in 2012 and has accommodated campers from around the world and all over the U.S.
“Most of our campers are by far from Europe,” said Jeff Thompson, who manages the property and also works the Jerky This! stand on the property on busy weekends. “Just like the rest of the town, summer is our busiest season too.”
Two German women, who camped at Kaweah Oaks this past week, were typical of many of the adventurous Europeans who come to Three Rivers. Jeff said they were recent college graduates on holiday before they returned home and started their working careers.
“They flew into San Francisco and spent about $1,000 buying new mountain bikes,” Jeff said. “After riding down the coast and turning inland, they decided Bakersfield was too hot so they got a ride part of the way and then headed for the mountains and cooler weather.”
Jeff said they were not outfitted with all the bike camping gear like more experienced bike-hikers but they were comfortable riding everywhere.
“They said they or their families have never owned automobiles so they cycle everywhere they go,” Jeff said. “They had really nice legs… I mean they were in great physical shape!”
Although half of the campsites are currently being rehabilitated to replace trees that recently died, at full capacity there is room at the campground for six or eight more sites.
“What the campers like is the privacy of each site even though they are right in the middle of town and hear and feel the music at the River View on certain nights,” Jeff said. “For some campers, having a restaurant, bar, and a candy store right across the highway is quite a luxury.”
Prices at the campground start at $20 per night for two bike campers; two extra persons in a site is $10 more. To park a car outside the campground and walk in is $5 extra.
Jeff said anyone who is curious about what the campground looks like may stop by for a tour. He is certain visitors will be impressed by the facilities and recommend Kaweah Oaks to their tent-pitching guests who might like staying in town and walking or riding a bike to some nearby attractions.
Bike the USA— The Adventure Cycling Association’s Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route includes Three Rivers as it runs roughly parallel to the Pacific Crest Trail along the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada from the Canadian border to the Mexican border (Sumas, Wash., to Tecate, Calif.).
The Association researches and produces cycling maps for the Adventure Cycling Route Network, one of the largest cycling route networks in the world at 42,180 miles and growing. The ACA is also the lead organization working to create an official U.S. cycling route network: the U.S. Bicycle Route System. Once complete, it will be the largest official cycling route network on the planet. Information: www.adventurecycling.org.