Channel Islands National Park

Located: California  -  Established: March 5, 1980

The ParkAlthough situated a short distance off the coast of heavily populated Southern California, Channel Islands National Park is one of the least visited parks. Why? Mainly because you cannot drive there! Access to the five Islands that comprise this park is either by boat or small aircraft. 

Limited access means small crowds, which will provide you with a relaxed feeling of solitude. Visiting any one of the 5 islands that make up this park will help you escape the hustle-bustle and bumper-to-bumper traffic of the Southern California city life! 

Anacapa is the closest island to the mainland sitting 12 miles off the coast. San Miguel Island, the furthest, is located 70 miles west of Oxnard; however, check with park officials as San Miguel has been been closed due to the discovery of unexploded military ordinance. 

 Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island

Getting thereIsland Packers is the official park concessionaire offering daily transportation to the Islands via boat from either Ventura or Oxnard.  Private boaters have access to the islands and Channel Islands Aviation will fly you there if taking to the high seas is undesirable!

When to visitThe park is open year-round and although Channel Islands has a “Mediterranean climate,” there are some things to consider when planning a visit. High winds are common in spring and dense fog in the late spring and early summer can dampen the mood. Summer is ideal for sailing, snorkeling and diving and is when the park is the busiest. Fall is an ideal time to visit as the kids are back in school and warmer temperatures and mild winds prevail. 

 Trekking the Channel Islands...our park visit  #40 .

Trekking the Channel Islands...our park visit #40.

 What to doOnce you’ve reached the Islands, there is plenty to do. Hiking opportunities are available on all five islands.  Other popular activities include kayaking, camping, boating, snorkeling and diving, fishing, tide pooling, whale watching and picnicking. 

Where to stayThere are no lodges on any of the islands, however camping is permitted on the 5 main islands. Camping reservations are required for all facilities and can be made no more than 5 months in advance.  

WildlifeSeals and Sea Lions are frequently spotted sunning about the shoreline. During winter, the pacific gray whale migrates southbound through the Santa Barbara channel. Large pods of dolphins frequent the area. 

The island scrub jay is a prime pursuit for bird watchers when exploring Santa Cruz Island. For those who enjoy watching a platoon of brown pelicans flying in formation, you will be pleased to know that this once nearly extinct bird now flourishes and nests on Anacapa Island. 

 Anacapa Lighthouse

Anacapa Lighthouse

Memorable MomentThe 4-mile day hike from Prisoners Harbor to Pelican Bay on Santa Cruz Island was perhaps the highlight of our visit to Channel Islands. The next best “moment” was the view from Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island. 

Trivia: In 1959, the oldest human remains dating back to 13,000 BC were found on Santa Rosa Island. 

Banner: Sea Lions lounging on the east end of Anacapa.

Experience these Check List:

  • Stop by the Visitor Centers in Ventura or Santa Barbara, CA
  • Trek about Anacapa Island
  • Visit Santa Cruz Island
  • Hike Prisoners Harbor to Pelican Bay   
  • Visit another Island!   
 Sea Arch

Sea Arch