Channel Islands Nationwide Park is among the least visited Nationwide Parks within the US resulting from its remoteness off the coast of Southern California. The 5 islands that make up the Park – Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara – are all protected and preserved with out fashionable facilities. There are not any eating places, bars, or motels like there are on close by Catalina Island, which makes it an ideal getaway for outside fans, particularly should you’re concerned with Channel Islands tenting.
The Nationwide Park has greater than 20 endemic species discovered nowhere else on the planet and it presents a snapshot of what native California (with out Disneyland & freeways) would appear like. I spent a summer season as a sea cave kayak information within the Channel Islands and it was considered one of my finest summers ever.
Whether or not you’re trying to go tenting, kayaking, mountain climbing, or diving, Channel Islands Nationwide Park presents all of it and is only a quick boat trip from Ventura, California.
Use this Channel Islands Nationwide Park information to plan a fast off-grid day journey or, higher but, a full weekend of island time.
Because it goes in all the locations we share, please follow good path etiquette and keep in mind to Go away No Hint. This implies packing out your entire rubbish, being respectful to others on busy trails, and following the established guidelines.
The place is Channel Islands Nationwide Park?
Channel Islands Nationwide Park is situated about 20 miles off the coast of California close to the cities of Ventura & Santa Barbara. You may entry the islands year-round from Ventura & Oxnard, CA that are just one.5 hours from Los Angeles, 3 hours from San Diego & 5 hours from San Francisco.
Many individuals reference Catalina Island once they hear concerning the”Channel Islands.” Whereas Catalina Island is a Channel Island (take a look at our information to mountain climbing the Trans-Catalina Path), it’s not thought of a part of Channel Islands Nationwide Park.
Methods to Get to Channel Islands Nationwide Park
The only real ferry transportation supplier for the Channel Islands Nationwide Park is Island Packers. They’ve ferries that depart from Oxnard and Ventura, California. Ferry schedules range resulting from seasons and climate, so at all times examine their web site earlier than planning your journey.
Island Packers has ferries to every of the islands for day or in a single day journeys or you may select to simply do a whale-watching or birding tour.
The Finest Time to Go to Channel Islands Nationwide Park
The Channel Islands are open and accessible year-round however you will need to examine for closures and updates on the Channel Islands Nationwide Park web site earlier than planning your journey.
Whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions may be considered year-round within the Santa Barbara Channel touring to and from the islands. Wildlife sightings on the ferry are an added perk to any Channel Islands Nationwide Park tour.
I hands-down suggest taking a day journey out to the islands vs. doing a whale watching journey. Island Packers & The Condor Categorical do provide whale & marine wildlife watching journeys within the Santa Barbara channel should you’re not concerned with touring all the way in which to the islands.
Right here is a superb chart from The Condor Categorical relating to which sightings you would possibly anticipate based mostly on the season:
Right here are some things to notice about every season inside the park:
Spring within the Channel Islands
Spring is the perfect time to view blooming wildflowers on the Channel Islands. Resulting from spring rain, the islands will typically be very inexperienced throughout this time. Some seabirds start nesting in spring and the Channel Islands fox offers start to pups this time of yr.
Summer time within the Channel Islands
Summer time is among the finest instances of yr to go to the Channels Islands but in addition the busiest. You’ll have the perfect probability for heat climate, simply be sure you plan your journey far upfront particularly if you wish to camp since permits go quick. Seals and sea lions give start to their younger throughout this time as properly.
Fall within the Channel Islands
Fall generally is a great time to go to Channel Islands Nationwide Park, particularly in September and October, with probability of heat, clear climate and the warmest water temperatures for snorkeling. Water situations may be very calm throughout this time for ferry transportation as properly, one thing to contemplate in case you’re liable to seasickness.
Winter within the Channel Islands
Within the winter, water situations may be inconsistent and ferry transportation may be canceled resulting from tough sea situations. Nonetheless, winter climate on the California coast can range broadly, from heat sunny days to chilly wet days so that you by no means know what you’ll get. If you happen to head to the Channel Islands in winter, examine the climate earlier than heading out so you may pack accordingly and produce heat layers. By way of wildlife, winter is when Northern Elephant seals and Harbor seals give start to their younger and when California brown pelicans start nesting.
Channel Islands Nationwide Park Guests Facilities
The Robert J. Lagomarsino Customer Middle is situated on the mainland in Ventura Harbor on Spinnaker Drive proper subsequent door to Island Packers ferry firm. The Customer Middle includes a marine biology show and displays that showcase the range of every of the 5 islands. There’s additionally a small bookstore.
In Santa Barbara, there may be an outside Guests Middle with nice views of Santa Barbara in addition to data on Channel Islands Nationwide Park, Channel Islands Nationwide Marine Sanctuary, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and the Metropolis of Santa Barbara.
There are additionally small customer facilities on Santa Barbara and Anacapa Islands and at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island. If you happen to’re into outdated farming & ranching gear, the unimaginable show of authentic machines at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is a should.
Channel Islands Nationwide Park Tenting
Tenting is out there year-round on all 5 of the islands and reservations may be made on-line at Recreation.gov. Campsite reservations for Spring Break & the summer season will usually promote out months upfront, as will the Channel Islands Nationwide Park ferry transportation. As such, you will need to make reservations not less than 2 months upfront, though reservations may be made as much as 6 months upfront. There’s a $15/night time per web site reservation price.
Tenting on the islands permits you to expertise them with few friends with extra time to discover. Channel Islands tenting additionally offers you the chance to catch dawn & sundown over the encompassing islands. You may study extra concerning the completely different campgrounds and examine for updates on the NPS web site for Channel Islands tenting.
A number of issues to learn about Channel Islands tenting:
- There are no companies accessible on the islands so double-check you’ve got all the pieces that you must be self-sufficient. There’s a small retailer/snorkel rental store on Santa Cruz Island at Scorpion Anchorage that does promote Channel Islands swag, rashguards, boxed water & sunscreen, however they don’t have meals, propane, matches, or batteries. Use our 3-day backpacking guidelines to ensure you have all the pieces you want earlier than heading out.
- It may be windy so convey a sturdy tent & don’t neglect additional tent stakes.
- Try this submit for straightforward backpacking meals.
- No campfires or open flames are allowed on the island. You’ll wish to pack a backpacking range for meals.
- The Channel Islands foxes, in addition to the ravens, can break into delicate coolers so a hard-sided cooler with wheels is beneficial.
- Pack as gentle as doable. The campgrounds all require a little bit of a trek to entry. If you happen to’re travelling with a bunch take into account bringing a collapsible cart or dolly.
Planning Your Channel Islands Nationwide Park Go to
Which Channel Island is finest to go to? This can be a powerful query. The very best Channel Island to go to depends upon how lengthy you’ve got and what you wish to do/see. If you happen to solely have 1 day accessible then I’d suggest visiting Santa Cruz Island or Anacapa Island. Santa Cruz has the perfect choices for day mountain climbing whereas Anacapa has a shorter, flat-ish path with wonderful views (and many seabirds).
If you happen to’re trying to get on or within the water, then Santa Cruz Island is the place to go. You may kayak by means of the ocean caves at Scorpion Anchorage with the Channel Islands Journey Firm or you may snorkel by means of underwater kelp forests for an opportunity to see Garibaldi (California’s state fish), leopard sharks (don’t fear, they’re innocent), and different sea life.
Whereas day journeys to the island are inspiring, we strongly encourage you to make your go to to the Channel Islands Nationwide Park an in a single day Channel Islands tenting keep so as to actually expertise all of it.
Santa Cruz Island
As the biggest island inside the Nationwide Park, Santa Cruz Island presents essentially the most quantity of actions and ranger programming in the summertime months.
An ideal 2 day, 1-night itinerary to Santa Cruz Island would come with a morning self-guided hike or tagging together with a Channel Islands Nationwide Park naturalist adopted by snorkeling within the afternoon. Within the night, there are ranger-led talks or you may cruise as much as the ridge to take a look at the celebs.
The subsequent day, enable for a full day of sea kayaking earlier than returning to the mainland. Learn extra about our favourite issues to do on Santa Cruz Island right here.
In the summertime months, the Santa Barbara Journey Firm additionally presents day journeys leaving from Santa Barbara to the well-known Painted Cave space on Santa Cruz Island.
If you happen to’re searching for one thing a bit extra secluded, then plan a 3-day, 2-night backpacking journey from Prisoner’s Harbor to Scorpion Anchorage. There are distinct variations between the 2 areas, which is what makes mountain climbing from one space to the opposite such an unimaginable approach to expertise the complete island. Scorpion Anchorage is drier & much like the mainland whereas Prisoner’s Harbor is forested.
After getting dropped off at Prisoner’s Harbor, you’ll spend your first night time at Del Norte Campground. On day 2, hike to Scorpion Anchorage and spend one other night time. This can depart a 3rd day the place you may nonetheless kayak the ocean caves earlier than catching a late ferry again to the mainland.
Santa Cruz Island Ferry Data
Ferry transportation is out there to each Scorpion Anchorage & Prisoner’s Harbor year-round. Within the spring, summer season, and fall you’ll usually discover 2 or extra boats a day touring to Scorpion Anchorage. Journey time to Scorpion Anchorage is 1-1.5 hours whereas journey time to Prisoner’s Harbor is 2 hours and the boat usually additionally visits the well-known Painted Cave space.
Santa Cruz Island Tenting
There are two campgrounds on Santa Cruz Island; Scorpion Ranch campground and Del Norte campground. The Scorpion Ranch campground is the biggest of all of the Channel Islands Nationwide Park campgrounds with 31 whole campsites. The Scorpion Ranch campground is a 0.5-mile flat stroll from the pier.
The Del Norte campground is primitive (which means it’s important to hike in 3+ miles) and it doesn’t have potable water.
If you happen to’ve seen photographs of Channel Islands Nationwide Park you’ve most definitely admired a photograph taken from Inspiration Level on Anacapa Island. What some folks don’t understand is that Anacapa Island is definitely three islets (East Anacapa, Center Anacapa, & West Anacapa) that make up the island. All three islets mixed have a complete space of 1 sq. mile (so you may think about how tiny every islet is).
If you happen to’re not into birds, we extremely suggest skipping Anacapa because the seabirds nest right here beginning in late April and may be very overwhelming.
Anacapa Island Ferry Data
Ferry transportation is out there to East Ancapapa whereas the opposite two islets are inaccessible from each other besides by non-public boat. East Anacapa boasts 4 mountain climbing trails that may all be mixed right into a 1.5-mile loop. The entire trails are simple however you will need to observe that touchdown at Anacapa Island requires climbing about 150 stairs to get off the boat.
Anacapa Island Tenting
There may be 1 campground on Anacapa Island with 7 campsites. The campground is a 0.5-mile stroll from the boat touchdown location. There are picnic tables, meals storage containers, and a pit rest room. There is no such thing as a potable water accessible
Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island is the 2nd largest island inside Channel Islands Nationwide Park and is thought for its stunning seashores. Count on the climate to be extra much like Large Sur than SoCal, so convey lengthy pants, heat layers, and a windbreaker.
Santa Rosa Island Ferry Data
Journey time to Santa Rosa Island is 2.5 hours. Island Packers travels to Santa Rosa Island each month apart from November, December, and January. Departures are restricted all through the week.
Santa Rosa Island Tenting
There may be 1 established campground on Santa Rosa Island with 15 campsites and backcountry tenting choices accessible between August fifteenth – December thirty first. The campground is a 1.5-mile stroll from the pier and is provided with a wind shelter, picnic tables, meals storage containers, a rest room, and potable water.
Primitive tenting is 9+ miles from the ferry touchdown location. Study extra about backcountry tenting on Santa Rosa Island right here.
Santa Barbara Island
There is no such thing as a ferry entry to Santa Barbara Island resulting from a broken pier. No restore date has been set. Guests in non-public boats can entry the island through a rocky ledge subsequent to the broken dock.
Santa Barbara Island is the smallest of the islands inside the Nationwide Park however nonetheless has 5 miles of mountain climbing trails. The touchdown pier at Santa Barbara Island is closed for an unknown length, however guests on non-public boats can entry the island through a rocky ledge adjoining to the pier.
Santa Barbara Island Ferry Data
Journey time to Santa Barbara Island is 2.5 – 3 hours. As a result of the pier is broken, there may be at the moment no ferry transportation accessible to Santa Barbara Island. Typically, journeys are provided April-October.
Santa Barbara Island Tenting
There may be one campground on Santa Barbara Island with picnic tables, meals storage containers, and a pit rest room. No water potable water is out there. The campground has 10 campsites and is a 0.25-mile steep uphill climb from the ferry touchdown space. As a result of ferry boat schedule, anticipate to camp a minimal of three days on the island.
San Miguel Island
San Miguel Island boasts your finest probability of seeing an elephant seal whereas visiting the Nationwide Park. San Miguel additionally has one of many largest congregations of seals and sea lions discovered wherever on the planet at Level Bennett, which is a 16-mile roundtrip hike. As a result of abundance of sea life and colder water temps, nice white sharks additionally wish to congregate right here.
Island Packers ferry employees gives you thorough directions for visiting San Miguel as touchdown at Cuyler Seashore is usually carried out by inflatable boats from the ferry boat.
All hikes into the inside of San Miguel Island have to be escorted by a naturalist or NPS employees member.
San Miguel Island Ferry Data
Journey time to San Miguel Island is 3 hours. Island Packers typically solely travels to San Miguel in June, July, August, September, and typically October. Transportation to San Miguel is for campers solely. They do provide sooner or later journey in October yearly which sells out rapidly.
San Miguel Island Tenting
There may be 1 campground accessible on San Miguel Island with 9 campsites, a wind shelter, picnic tables, meals storage containers, and a pit rest room. The campground is a 1-mile steep uphill stroll from the ferry touchdown space. There is no such thing as a potable water accessible on the island.
Have you ever visited Channel Islands Nationwide Park? Which island is your favourite? What different recommendation or suggestions do you’ve got? Go away a remark under!