Where Is Bakersfield? See Its Location and Proximity to Other California Cities

Late Afternoon Sun Hits the Architecture and Landscape in and around Bakersfield California
ChrisBoswell/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Telea Dodge

Published: November 29, 2023

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Bakersfield, California. The birthplace of the “Bakersfield Sound”. The home of legendary musicians such as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. An agricultural hub that houses two of the largest carrot producers in the nation. This California city has quite a reputation, especially revolving around country music, agriculture, and energy production. It is also known for its affordability in comparison with other California cities. Today, we’ll learn about where this city is and what it’s all about. We’ll start with finding it on a map. So, where is Bakersfield? Let’s take a look.

Where Is Bakersfield on a Map?

Bakersfield, California

The city of Bakersfield is located in Kern County, California.

Bakersfield is a city in California. It rests along the mostly dry banks of the Kern River and acts as the seat of Kern County. Located north of Los Angeles and south of Fresno, this city lies in the southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley, where the Sierra Nevada Mountains meet the Coastal Range.

Let’s look at Bakersfield’s proximity to other California cities, along with some of the attractions this great state has to offer.

Distance From Other California Cities

Beautiful sunset of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

Los Angeles, pictured above, is about two hours south of Bakersfield.

Let’s look at five popular cities in California and their distance from Bakersfield. This helpful table shows the distance between Bakersfield and other cities. It also provides an estimate of how long it would take to traverse that distance. Keep in mind that our travel times are based on estimates from Google Maps at the time of writing this article. Your actual travel time may vary based on traffic, weather, construction, and road closures.

CityDistanceEstimated Travel Time
Los Angeles113 miles1 hour and 55 minutes
San Diego238 miles4 hours and 15 minutes
Sacramento286 miles4 hours and 24 minutes
San Francisco283 miles4 hours and 26 minutes
Fresno109 miles1 hour and 44 minutes

Distance to California Attractions

Scale of the giant sequoias, Sequoia National Park. California. U.S

Sequoia National Park is less than 100 miles from Bakersfield, making it a great place for a day trip to get out of the city and into nature.

Now, let’s look at a few attractions in California and their distances from Bakersfield. We have focused mostly on outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for this table.

AttractionDistanceEstimated Travel Time
Sequoia National Park93.9 miles1 hour and 52 minutes
Los Padres National Forest187 miles4 hours and 57 minutes
San Bernardino National Forest133 miles2 hours and 18 minutes
Yosemite National Park170 miles2 hours and 57 minutes
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park278 miles4 hours and 34 minutes
Joshua Tree National Park217 miles3 hours and 32 minutes
Death Valley National Park174 miles3 hours and 1 minute
Tahoe National Forest415 miles7 hours and 7 minutes
Redwood National and State Parks586 miles9 hours and 32 minutes
Badwater Basin244 miles4 hours and 21 minutes

History and Incorporation

Bakersfield welcome sign, a wide arched street sign

Bakersfield welcome sign, a wide arched street sign. Also known as the Bakersfield Neon Arch, it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Bakersfield, California.

The area that is now the dry, arid city of Bakersfield used to be a swampy wetland. The Kern River regularly flooded the area. This didn’t stop Indigenous tribes, such as the Yowlumne tribe of Yokuts, from settling there. The Yokuts were the first Native Americans to settle the San Juaquin Valley. The Yowlumne tribe was one of many (at least 63) Native tribes that lived in the San Joaquin Valley, but it is the one most local to present-day Bakersfield. This peaceful tribe suffered at the hands of colonists. Spanish colonists were the first to reach the valley. They put the Yowlumne people to work and sent them far from home, to places like the Santa Cruz Mission. Later, the remaining tribal members would be subject to relocation to government reservations. This was by order of General Edward F. Beale, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada.

Unfortunately, it was not just the colonists causing problems for the Natives – It was the diseases and war they brought with them. Thousands of Yokuts died of illness and in battle with the colonists. By 1960, only one Yowlumne man lived on. He lived longer than the marshlands his ancestors knew – settlers began draining the Kern River marsh in the 1850s.

Settling Bakersfield

Settlers were able to begin moving into the area in the 1860s. The first settlement, founded by a German named Christian Bohna, was swept away in 1861 by one of the many floods the area was famous for. In 1863, Thomas Baker arrived. Bakersfield is named after Thomas Baker, who claimed a large tract of swampland along the Kern River and drained it by building levees and canals. After a drought in 1864, the lands became livable and Baker offered it as a stopover for travelers and their horses. He later built streets and avenues as people began to settle in the area and soon there were over 600 residents in the area. Not long after, he gave all but 80 acres of his land away. The land he donated was the foundation for current-day Bakersfield.

Incorporation

Bakersfield was actually incorporated twice, first in 1873. This incorporation only lasted for three years. Residents and businessmen in the area had taken to disliking the Marshal of the city, Alexander Mills. They concocted a plan to disincorporate Bakersfield in order to leave Mills unemployed. In 1876, this plan was made effective, and the city was disincorporated and run by a citizen’s council.

The next two decades saw a great rise in population and, by 1890, over 2,500 people lived in Bakersfield. This, perhaps, is one of the factors that led Bakersfield to reincorporate on January 11, 1898. Today, the city of Bakersfield houses 407,615 people (2021 Census), and the landscape of the area has drastically changed since Thomas Baker first arrived.

More Photos of Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield Wind Farm

Wind Turbines line the hillsides outside Bakersfield, California.

Hart Memorial Park, Bakersfield, CA.

Hart Memorial Park is one of the larger parks in Bakersfield, CA.

Bakersfield, California

Afternoon aerial skyline view of downtown Bakersfield, California, USA.


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About the Author

Telea Dodge is an animal enthusiast and nature fiend with a particular interest in teaching a sense of community and compassion through interactions with the world at large. Carrying a passion for wild foraging, animal behaviorism, traveling, and music, Telea spends their free time practicing their hobbies while exploring with their companion dog, Spectre.

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