Channel Islands National Park

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About Channel Islands National Park

Five islands of fun fun fun! Channel Islands National Park is made up of five of the eight islands off of the southern California coast. These 5 are only a little while away from Los Angeles, and the small slice of old California makes for a unique day trip. You’ll be one of the very few people to see these Pacific wonders-- this is probably the least visited national park. Not convinced? We’ll win you over with the top 10 coolest facts of these islands: 10. Stunning views, especially from Inspiration Point 9. More endangered animals here than in any other national park 8. More than 2,000 species of plants and animals 7. 145 of which are found NOWHERE ELSE in the world 6. Island isolation = some crazy evolution 5. Home to dolphins, whales, sea lions, seals, and the largest animal on Earth… the blue whale! 4. Oldest dated human remains in North America… woah 3. The islands are little pieces of what California was like 100 years ago 2. Dude. The sea caves. 1. Extreme water visibility = one of the TOP scuba diving spots in the world

Campgrounds in Channel Islands

Eastern Santa Cruz Island (Scorpion Ranch)
Ezekiel
Ezekiel: You'll have to secure transportation to the Island first before booking a campsite. It's very simple...
Anacapa Island
Shirleen
Shirleen: The picture is the wrong island. Gets super windy...breag tent stakes.
Santa Barbara Island
This island is located some distance between the other national park Channel Islands and the non-park...
San Miguel Island
This plateau campground is one mile uphill from Cuyler Harbor, so you’ll have to bring all your gear...
Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa is the second largest island in all of California and features a high mountain range...

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Hipcamper Ezekiel

You'll have to secure transportation to the Island first before booking a campsite. It's very simple tho. http://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/island-transportation.htm

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Hipcamper Aja

You would never guess this much nature is so close to LA. Book your boat ride with Island Packers. Expensive, but there's no way around it without a helicopter connection.

Reserve one of two types of sites with NPS: the easy site .5 miles from the dock or the holy cow I have to climb THAT MOUNTAIN to get there site that is a minimum 10 mile hike across the island. Worth it.

A map is non negotiable. Using Nat Geo's map plus "A guide to eastern santa cruz island" I STILL got lost but that was 2 parts exhaustion and 1 part the sign had fallen down and I made the wrong gamble. Springs are marked on the maps, but don't expect actual water. Pack it all in! Prepare for cute foxes who WILL steal your food when your back is turned.

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Hipcamper Shirleen

The picture is the wrong island. Gets super windy...breag tent stakes.

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Hipcamper Nathalie

Great base for exploring Santa Cruz island! Wonderful kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking nearby. Interesting wildlife around campsite as well- we saw an island spotted skunk and digger bees.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Amazing place to go diving, and the seals will keep you company

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

February to April is wildflower season, which means the islands are blanketed with pops of color!

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Prepare for some seasickness, but don’t let that deter you. The islands are definitely worth it.

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island is a must-visit

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Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

If you’re not ready to commit yourself to visiting the islands, check out the visitor’s center in Ventura. Amazing view of the islands from the tower!

Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Strongly recommended to take kayaking tours!

Hipcamper Hipcamper
Hipcamper

Stay away from cliff edges, and watch out for your kids

Hipcamper Davy

What an adventure. We packed a big lunch and dinner for day one in a tote we could easily store into our backpacks. We each had a 4L camelback and 32oz water bottle. We started out the 2nd morning around 430am, chugging as mach water as we could. Then started off on our 5 hour hike to Del Norte Campground 12 miles in. It was breathtaking as the scenery changed drastically as we went. Del Norte has no water so save your juice and bring food that doesnt require much water to cook. Slept like a baby and arranged to be picked up from prisoners Harbor the following morning. Not an easy hike but worth every second. Can't wait to come back.

Hipcamper Stacie

Use Islandpackers for your travel out of Ventura (http://islandpackers.com/). If you want a real backpacking trip you can hike from one side of the island to the other. These trails were used for ranching so they are very hilly and there's no drinking water. The birds are super aggressive. Make sure you don't leave food in your pack. The birds can unzip zippers.

Hipcamper William

I love camping on Santa Cruz Island. I've camped at both Del Norte, which is a long hike-in site, and the more popular Scorpion multiple times. I've been there in hot summer, stormy winter (we were evacuated 2 days before Christmas during a crazy rain/wind storm), and nice spring time. I'd say winter and spring time are the most beautiful. Hikes are amazing.

The foxes are really cute, but be super careful about leaving ANYTHING out of sight for even a second... my friend put a block of cheese on the picnic table and went back to the 'bear safe' for something else, and in that time a fox had jumped up on the table and ran away with the whole block. At night thousands of them run everywhere around the campsites like a rushing river.

Hipcamper Lucie

We camped in March and it was INCREDIBLE! We hiked through wildflowers taller than us, saw whales, dolphins, and the cutest baby seal sleeping on the beach. So much life and diversity.

Group sites at the upper loop can be a little windy. Lower loop looked a little more protected.

Securing transportation prior to booking a campsite is not required but recommended. The ferry can sell out and you just want to be sure you can get there before booking a campsite. However, if sites are available it's likely seats on the ferry will be too.

History of Channel Islands National Park

Surfacing over the horizon from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, the coastal mountains of California's Channel Islands offer an extraordinary gateway to the past, spanning more than 12,000 years of human history.

The Channel Islands have attracted many explorers, scientists and historians during the past few centuries. Today, island visitors can explore the world of the native Chumash, walk the shores where European explorers landed, discover new tales from California's ranching history, and witness the remains of off-shore shipwrecks.
The northern Channel Islands were home to many native Chumash communities who are believed to have inhabited the islands for thousands of years. When Europeans first reached the islands in the 16th century, they discovered a rich culture dependent upon the resources of the land and the sea for sustenance and survival. By the nineteenth century, the islands were fulfilling different purposes: vast sheep and cattle ranches occupied Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands and the channel waters were aggressively harvested for fish and marine mammals. The remains of ancient Chumash villages are intermingled with historic ranch complexes and later military structures, testifying to the diverse heritage of human experience on these offshore islands.
There is so much history behind these islands that you can read more about here.