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Channel Islands National Park

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General Information

Channel Islands National Park
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Channel Islands National Park
Description - Comprised of five of the eight California Channel Islands, Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of nationally, and internationally, significant natural and cultural resources. Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz Islands are administered by the National Park Service; San Miguel, by the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service. A permit is needed to visit the latter. Santa Rosa is private property. Over 2,000 terrestrial plants and animals can be found within the park. However only four mammal species are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world.

Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal to live on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years. The park consists of 249,353 acres, half of which are under the ocean, and include the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Barbara. Even though the islands seem tantalizingly close to the densely populated, southern California coast, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped, making them an exciting place for visitors to explore and find solitude.

Recreation - This National Park contains a visitor center on the mainland in Ventura, California, as well as small visitor centers on Anacapa and Santa Barbara Islands. The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center lies on the mainland and provides the visitor with interpretive programs, a movie about the park, a tide pool display, native plant garden, bookstore and island exhibits. The facility is fully accessible and offers a picnic area overlooking the Ventura Harbor.

On Anacapa Island (699 acres) you'll find hiking trails, a visitor center, lighthouse exhibits, primitive campground and picnic area. The site offers opportunities for SCUBA diving, snorkeling, bird watching, fishing and observing marine mammals. The campground lies on East Anacapa Island, a half mile from the dock and up 154 stairs. There are seven campsites with a campground capacity of 30 people.

Santa Barbara Island (639 acres) has five miles of hiking trails, a visitor center, picnic area, and primitive campground. It offers visitors opportunities for hiking, bird watching, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, fishing and marine-mammal observation. The campground is a half mile uphill from the dock landing. There are eight campsites with a campground capacity of 30 people.

San Miguel Island (9,325 acres) has a primitive campground, miles of hiking trails and beaches. The island supports activities such as Ranger-led hikes, marine-mammal observation, beach exploration and bird watching. The campground is a one mile hike uphill from the beach landing and has windbreaks. There are nine campsites with a total campground capacity of 30 people. Fewer than 200 people per year ever get the experience of
camping on San Miguel Island.

Santa Rosa Island (52,794 acres) has hiking trails and a primitive campground and offers beach exploration, wildlife observation, ranger-led hikes, vehicle tours and kayak beach-camping. The campground in Water Canyon is 1 1/2 mile miles across the flats from the pier landing, or 1/4 mile from the airstrip. There are 15 campsites with a 50 person campground capacity. The campground has windbreaks, running water (most people bring drinking water) and an invigorating shower.

Santa Cruz Island (60,645 acres) is owned by the Nature Conservancy. The National Park Service owns the eastern ten percent, where visitors may observe wildlife, hike, camp and explore the newest addition to the park. The campground is in Scorpion Valley and has 40 sites and allows four to six people per site. The campsites are spread out along the valley floor half to one mile up the flats from the beach landing.

Marine Resources include 125,000 acres and extend one mile from the islands' shoreline. The park's waters offer a full range of activities including sailing, power boating, fishing, SCUBA diving/snorkeling, surfing, wildlife observation and bird watching.

Many visitors enjoy camping on the islands. Camping conditions are primitive and users must camp in designated campsites. All campgrounds are equipped with pit toilets and picnic tables. Water is available on Santa Rosa Island only. If you camp on the other islands you must pack in your own water.

San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands have windbreaks for each campsite. Campsites are generally located close to one another and if the campground is filled to capacity conditions may be crowded. No trash service is provided and all campers must pack out their own trash. Be prepared to carry your camping gear from the landing areas to the campground.

Campfires are allowed on east Santa Cruz Island, but not on the
other islands. Some wood is available, but only charcoal briquettes or manufactured logs can be brought to the island. Do not bring regular firewood as it can introduce insects and nonnative plant species to the island.

Campers should be prepared for a variety of weather, especially on the outer-islands. Thirty knot winds are not uncommon on Santa Rosa and San Miguel Islands. Sturdy tents, stakes and line for securing tents to the ground, table or windscreen are recommended. Fog can occur on the islands during any season producing cool, damp conditions.

All of the campgrounds, except East Santa Cruz Island, are located away from trees and shade. Over exposure to the wind and sun can be a serious problem. Visitors are advised to bring supplies for an extra day in case transportation is delayed due to weather conditions.

Climate - The southern California coastal climate is mild with little variation in temperature year round. Be prepared for high winds, fog and sea spray at any time of the year. Visitors to the islands should dress in layers, with short and long pants, windbreaker, hat, sunscreen and waterproof outer clothing.

Location - The islands within the park extend along the southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to just north of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino visitor center are located in the city of Ventura.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Matt Coda (Ventura, CA)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Day trip to Santa Cruz, mostly spent in the Scorpian Ranch area. Some great snorkling right off the warf, a number of easy hikes up the bluffs on either side of the 'Ranch'. Numerous sea birds, a few pinipeds just off shore, tons of fish in the shallows. Looking forward to heading back for a two or more night trip.

Filed By: Ralph Stokes (West hills , ca)
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Hi all, My family and I returned from Mcgrath State Beach in Ventura County. Great experiance, we set up camp just after a storm, the wind was gusting but we position the RV behind some tall brush to keep the rocking to a minimum. The landscape was glorious, Heavy billowing clouds over the ocean moving over Topa Topa ridge. Great experiance!

More Information

Contact Information:
Channel Islands National Park, 1901 Spinnaker Drive , Ventura, CA, 93001, Phone: 805-658-5700, Fax: 805-658-5799

Additional Information:
California National Forests & Parks - California's National Parks, Monuments and Forests cover lands from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Central Coast Region - The Central Coast Region covers a tranquil expanse between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Dramatic seascapes and coastal resorts, together with the pastoral atmosphere of its inland agricultural communities, make this region an idyllic destination.
Los Angeles County - Los Angeles County stretches over 4,000 square miles, encompassing high deserts, sparkling beaches, snowy peaks, and meandering megalopolis.
Santa Barbara Area - This city lies on the southern California coast north of Los Angeles and south of San Luis Obispo. It is famous for its Spanish-influenced architecture and pleasant year-round climate.

Channel Islands National Park - Official agency website


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