Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

Quick Facts

Channel Islands National Park

California

(805) 658-5730

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Comprised of five in a chain of eight southern California islands near Los Angeles, Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of nationally and internationally significant natural and cultural resources. Over 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. 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 249,354 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. The islands are ideal for quiet, uninterrupted time with family and friends--wonderful places to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, birdwatch, take photographs, sketch, or just relax to the soothing sounds of the natural world.

Two visitor centers make a great start to your visit. The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park is located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA 93001. They can be contacted at (805) 658-5730. While at this visitor center you can shop at the bookstore, as well as view a marine aquatic life exhibit, which features the unique character of each park island. The Outdoors Santa Barbara Visitor Center, located at 113 Harbor Way 4th Floor Santa Barbara, CA 93001 can be contacted at (805) 884-1475. This visitor center not only has one of the best views of Santa Barbara, but also offers visitors exhibits and information about Channel Islands National Park, Los Padres National Forest, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and the City of Santa Barbara.

Map of Channel Islands

Latitude, Longitude: 34.004858, -119.838867

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Activities

  • Boating

    Kayaking is an island favorite. Take a half-day non-landing boat tour around Anacapa or a half-day, express boat trip to Anacapa or Santa Cruz Islands via Island Packers. During gray whale season (December through April), take a whale watch trip out of Ventura, Oxnard, or Santa Barbara Harbors. Take a multi-day, multi-island, live-aboard boat trip with Truth Aquatics.

  • Bird Watching

    The Channel Islands support a rich variety of birds, distinct in many ways from the birds of the adjacent mainland. The islands offer protected habitat in an increasingly disturbed southern California environment.

    They are important nesting areas for seabirds; the particular association of northern and southern species found here is not duplicated anywhere else in the world. The islands support large numbers of Western Gulls, Cassin's Auklets, Brandt's Cormorants, and the only nesting population of Brown Pelicans along the west coast of the United States. Also, the islands support the world's largest population of Xantus' Murrelets.

    The land birds on the islands are also a distinctive group--they represent a unique selection of the birds that live across the Channel on the California mainland. Ten of the 40 land bird species that commonly nest on the park islands are represented by endemic species or subspecies--forms that occur only on the islands and nowhere else. Of this group, the island scrub jay is the only bird that is endemic on the species level.

    While some seabird species may be viewed from the islands, the park boat concessionaires will search for seabirds on the boat trip out to the islands. Be sure to tell a boat crew member that you are interested in seabirds and they will often assist in finding and identifying birds. In addition, local chapters of the Audubon Society occasionally sponsor boats trips around the islands to view seabirds.

    The larger islands of Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa offer more types of habitats and therefore, more variety of land birds. Many birdwatchers will visit Prisoners Harbor (easiest viewing opportunity) or Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island to view the island scrub jay. Due to limited beach access on some islands, shore bird viewing is best done on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, or San Miguel Islands.

  • Camping

    Camping is a great way to experience these islands. Take a Reservations are required to camp and all are open to tenting except for Western Santa Cruz. All campgrounds are located away from the boat landing areas.

    Visitors must carry all their gear to the campgrounds. No on-island transportation is provided. Camping conditions are primitive, and users must camp within designated areas. All campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables and pit toilets. Water is not available at campgrounds and must be brought with you except at the Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island campgrounds. No trash containers are provided; campers must pack out their own trash.

  • Fishing

    Great fishing can be experienced in this island environment. To fish in Channel Islands National Park, possession of a valid California state fishing license is required and all California Department of Fish and Game Regulations apply. In addition, twelve Marine Protected Areas surround the islands where special resource protection regulations apply.

  • Hiking

    Many trails and roads traverse the islands, providing visitors with spectacular hiking opportunities. These trails and roads range from the maintained, relatively flat, signed trails of Anacapa to the unmaintained, rugged, mountainous, unsigned paths of Santa Rosa.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic tables are available for day use on all islands except San Miguel. If weather permits, many visitors enjoy picnicking on the islands' beaches. Visitors must bring their own food and water (potable water is available at the Scorpion Canyon Campground on Santa Cruz Island and the Water Canyon Campground on Santa Rosa Island). Public pit toilets are available on all islands.

  • Water Sports

    The kelp forests, sea caves, and coves of the park await the adventurous swimmer, snorkeler, and diver. Some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world can be done right here within the park. These activities are best done on Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and eastern Santa Cruz Islands. Due to extremely windy conditions on Santa Rosa and San Miguel, these activities should not be attempted on these islands by the novice or anyone who is not properly trained, conditioned, and equipped. Please refer to local area dive shops, dive operations, and diving publications for more detailed information on island snorkeling and diving sites and dive boat trips.

  • Wildlife Watching

    A variety of animals can be found on and around the Channel Islands, from top predators like bald eagles and sharks, to intertidal residents such as seastars and barnaces, to the tiniest parasites living on other animals and plants. The park is a popular place for whale watching, as the waters off the islands are home to whales, dolphins and porpoises. The islands also provide habitat seals and sea lions, which can be viewed during a channel crossing or from various locations on the islands.

Seasonality/Weather

Weather conditions can vary greatly on this island, because of high winds, fog, rough seas, and sea spray. Dress in layers, with short and long pants, fleece jacket or sweatshirt, windbreaker, hat, sunscreen and waterproof outer clothing. In addition, visitors should wear sturdy hiking shoes with non-slip soles.

Park Partners

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

In 1980, a 1,252-square-nautical-mile portion of the Santa Barbara Channel was given special protected status with the designation of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is an area of national significance because of its exceptional natural beauty and resources. It encompasses the waters that surround Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands, extending from mean high tide to six nautical miles off shore around each of the five islands. The sanctuary's primary goal is the protection of the natural and cultural resources contained within its boundaries.

(805) 966-7107

Island Packers

Cruising the California Channel Islands for education, recreation, and research since 1968. Let your island adventure begin with the experienced crew from Island Packers. Providing first rate transportation services for island hiking, camping, kayaking, whale watching, school field trips, sightseeing and harbor cruises.

(805) 642-1393

Directions

Driving

Ventura is located 70 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara.

From the 101 Freeway northbound, take the Victoria Avenue exit. At the end of the freeway exit, turn left on Victoria. Turn right onto Olivas Park Drive to Harbor Boulevard, where Olivas Park Drive runs straight into Spinnaker Drive. The visitor center is located at the very end of Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. Free parking is available at the beach parking lot.

From the 101 Freeway southbound, take the Seaward Avenue exit. At the end of the freeway exit, turn left onto Harbor Boulevard, then proceed on Harbor to Spinnaker Drive. Turn right onto Spinnaker Drive. The visitor center is located at the very end of Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. Free parking is available at the beach parking lot.

Flying

Channel Islands Aviation, located at the Camarillo airport, is the park's concessionaire for air travel to Santa Rosa Island. Trips vary from one-day to multi-day camping excursions. For prices, schedules, and reservations, call or write: (805) 987-1301; Channel Islands Aviation, 305 Durley Avenue, Camarillo, California 93010.

Public Transportation

Only train, bus, and private car transportation are available from Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to Ventura.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(805) 658-5730

Links