About Eastern Santa Cruz Island (Scorpion Ranch)
- Listing type: Public
- No. of sites: 54
- Phone: (805) 658-5730
- Accessible by: Drive
- Accommodation: Tent Only, Tent, Vehicles & RVs
The vibe at Eastern Santa Cruz Island (Scorpion Ranch)
Drop some Eastern Santa Cruz Island (Scorpion Ranch) knowledge on us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Upper loop has group sites which can get noisy, but also has three three most secluded non-group sites with incredible views. Toilets were well lit during the day, but though "maintained" by park staff daily, were pretty gross and in desperate need of pumping.
One of the best trips we have ever taken as a family. An adventurous and informative boat trip to the island is over before you get tired of it. Once on dry land, it's about .5mi to the campsite. When we arrived, squatters were in our site. Fortunately, the ranger was easy to find and they were on the boat out of there in no time.
Lots of fun and semi-challenging hikes around the island and tons of history to be learned. The wildlife is awesome. Just don't let the foxes snag your trail mix!
Our neighbs were a spearfishing couple and brought us a heaping handful of steaming lemony peppery fresh caught/cooked sheephead fish which I will never forget the flavor of
I plan to do some fishing and kayaking next time.