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Channel Islands National Park Camping

What To Bring Hiking In Channel Islands Np

Channel Islands National Park Camping – Santa Rosa Island

Naturally, WATER! It is scarce and you will need to stock up before going on your Channel Islands National Park hike. Also, be prepared for the weather and what it can potentially bring to your day. It can be windy and there may not be many shelters, so also bring sunscreen and dress accordingly.

Here are some recommendations for what to bring with you to the Channel Islands:

Reusable Water Jug: I recommend always having a reusable water jug with you at all times. The California sun can be so inviting but also dehydrating! There are almost always freshwater sources available in and around the area but do bring some with you just in case!

I travel the world with my Klean Kanteen water jug and I think it is the perfect one to get the job done when hiking! You can see the one I use here.

Keen Targhee Hiking Boots: I have been wearing the same style of hiking boots for years and I love my Keen Targhees. They have taken me from the Faroe Islands to Kazakhstan and beyond. They are durable, lightweight, and a great accompaniment for the Channel Islands.

Lightweight Daypack: If there is one thing I have too many of, it is daypacks. While I love my Sandqvist and Ucon Acrobatics Bags, I opt for something a bit more lightweight when hiking or exploring the outdoors.

My top recommendation is the Osprey Ultralight Daypack. It is durable and well-made and will be an effortless accompaniment for your day hike. Click here to check out color options and purchase.

What To Pack When Camping In Channel Islands National Park

Before heading out to your favorite island, you have to make sure youre properly packed. Camping requires various tools and equipment to keep you safe and comfortable after all, you are choosing to live in the wild for a few days.

To help you have the best camping experience possible, heres everything you should be packing before you head across the water.

New Ways To Visit Channel Islands National Park

Check out the Channel Islands National Park digital app to enhance the visitor experience in the park that can also be used to take a virtual visit. The new mobile app is free and available at the App Store or on .

Features in the app include exploring the islands through stories, sites, self-guided tours, and interactive maps, or finding favorite places, trails, and topics of interest. Visitors can use the app to create a collage of the images from your visit or to track a calendar of current conditions, events, or ranger programs. The app is fully accessible with audio description and alternative text for images. To learn more go to NPS Channel Islands App.

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Early 20th Century To World War Ii

Just before the turn of the 20th century, oil was discovered at the , and the region along the beach east of Santa Barbara sprouted numerous oil derricks and piers for . This was the first offshore oil development in the world oil drilling offshore would become a contentious practice in the Santa Barbara area, which continues to the present day.

Santa Barbara housed the world’s largest movie studio during the era of silent film. Flying A Studios, a division of the , operated on two city blocks centered at State and Mission between 1910 and 1922, with the industry shutting down locally and moving to once it outgrew the area, needing the resources of a larger city. Flying A and the other smaller local studios produced approximately 1,200 films during their tenure in Santa Barbara, of which approximately 100 survive.

During this period, the was established on lower State Street, and regularly tested off of East Beach. This was the genesis of what would later become .

Best Campgrounds On The Channel Islands


Camping is the best way to experience the natural beauty and isolation of Channel Islands National Park. Unrestricted by tour schedules, you have plenty of time to explore mountain trails, snorkel in the kelp forests, or kayak into sea caves. Campsites are primitive, with no water or electricity. Campfires are not allowed on the islands, though you may use enclosed camp stoves. Use bear boxes for storing your food. You must carry all your gear and pack out all trash. Campers must arrange transportation to the islands before reserving a campsite .

National Park Service Reservation System. You can get specifics on each campground and reserve a campsite by contacting the National Park Service Reservation System up to six months in advance. 877/4446777

Del Norte Campground. This remote campground on Santa Cruz offers backpackers sweeping ocean views from its 1,500-foot perch. It’s accessed via a 3½-mile hike through a series of canyons and ridges. Prisoners Harbor landing.

East Anacapa Campground. You need to walk ½ mile and ascend more than 150 steps to reach this open, treeless camping area above Cathedral Cove. East Anacapa landing.

San Miguel Campground. Accessed by a steep, 1½-mile hike across the beach and through a lush canyon, this campground is on the site of the Lester Ranch the Cabrillo Monument is nearby. Be aware that strong winds and thick fog are common here. Cuyler Harbor landing.

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Kayaking Off Santa Cruz Island

I highly recommend kayaking at some point during your stay on the island. During the summer, the days can get pretty hot and its nice to get out on the water. Im constantly amazed at how clear the water is in the Marine Sanctuary that surrounds the five islands in the National Park, so its the perfect place to kayak and snorkel.

We booked a kayaking tour with Santa Barbara Adventure Company for Sunday morning. This was my second tour with them on Santa Cruz Island and I love that each trip is unique depending on the ocean conditions, the wildlife sightings, and each guide has their own bit of knowledge to teach about the area.

We toured more sea caves this time since the swell was a little calmer and, thanks to our guide, I learned how to make a loud whistle out of kelp, just in case Im ever in trouble out on the ocean. They provide wetsuits, water shoes and snorkeling equipment . We wanted to snorkel on the island, but we didnt have room for our wetsuits and snorkel gear in our bags, so booking the tour was absolutely worth it.

For more beautiful places to camp in California, see our recent post with some of the best places to camp in California.

Camping On Santa Rosa Island

Santa Rosa, the second largest island in California, offers a single campground. There are only 15 campsites here. The island hosts six endemic plant species and three endemic mammals in addition to a variety of reptiles and amphibians.

To camp on Santa Rosa Island, you must have both a campground reservation and a ferry reservation.

Sites: 15

Services: Wind shelter, picnic table, food storage box, flush toilets, potable water

Need to Know: This campground is located 1.5 miles from the pier and .25 miles from the airstrip.

What to Bring:

Ferry Cost: $60/adult, $55/senior , $47/child – subject to change

Camping Cost: $15/night

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Winter In The Channel Islands

In the winter, water conditions can be inconsistent and ferry transportation can be canceled due to rough sea conditions. However, winter weather on the California coast can vary widely, from warm sunny days to cold rainy days so you never know what youll get. If you head to the Channel Islands in winter, check the weather before heading out so you can pack accordingly and bring warm layers. In terms of wildlife, winter is when Northern Elephant seals and Harbor seals give birth to their young and when California brown pelicans begin nesting.

Channel Islands National Park Visitors Centers

Santa Cruz Island Camping | Channel Islands National Park

The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center is located on the mainland in Ventura Harbor on Spinnaker Drive right next door to Island Packers ferry company. The Visitor Center features a marine biology display and exhibits that showcase the diversity of each of the five islands. Theres also a small bookstore.

In Santa Barbara, there is an outdoor Visitors Center with great views of Santa Barbara as well as information on Channel Islands National Park, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and the City of Santa Barbara.

There are also small visitor centers on Santa Barbara and Anacapa Islands and at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island. If youre into old farming & ranching equipment, the incredible display of original machines at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is a must.

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Channel Islands National Park Overview

Channel Islands National Park is located off the central California coastline and includes 5 beautiful islands and their ocean environment. Each island has a primitive campground accessed by concession boats and then by hiking. The islands have unique wildlife and archeological resources found nowhere else on the planet.

Channel Island National Park Camping

Camping is available year round on all 5 islands in Channel Islands National Park. Camping is primitive and campers must pack in/out all gear, food and trash. On-island transportation is not provided. Each campsite also has a table and vault toilets are provided. Water is not available except at Water Canyon campground on Santa Rosa Island and the Scorpion Canyon campground on Santa Cruz Island.

Each island has an established campground including: above the Landing Cove on Santa Barbara, on the east islet of Anacapa, at Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz, at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel. Backcountry Camping is available on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

Because concession boats fill to capacity much faster than campground limits are met, campers must first secure transportation for an overnight trip to Channel Islands National Park. Visit Island Packers for boat schedules and more information.

  • Golden Age & Access Passports accepted

Inspiration Point Anacapa Island

There is no view more incredible than the one that Inspiration Point offers. Located all around Anacapa Island, Inspiration Point is an easy 0.5 mile hike that allows you to explore not only the island, but the scenery of the channel of islands in front of you.

When going on this hike, make sure you remember to bring your camera: youll capture some photos that you simply cannot believe exist.

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Camping On San Miguel Island

On Point Bennett, youll find up to 5 different pinniped species that make up over 30,000 individuals. Its one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world. In fact, Channel Islands National Park is one of the best national parks for wildlife viewing.

To camp on San Miguel Island, you must have both a campground reservation and a ferry reservation.

Sites: 9

Services: Wind shelter, picnic table, food storage box, pit toilets

Need to Know: This campground is located 1 mile up a steep 400-foot canyon from the pier.

What to Bring: There is no potable water at this campground you will need to bring your own. You should also bring your own toilet paper.

Ferry Cost: $84/adult, $78/senior , $68/child – subject to change

Camping Cost: $15/night

Santa Barbara County California

Camping in Channel Islands National Park. : backpacking
Santa Barbara County
County of Santa Barbara
Images, from top down, left to right: The ‘s main gate along Foxen Canyon Road, running between the and Danish-styled
Interactive map of Santa Barbara County
Location in the state of
3,789 sq mi
Land 2,735 sq mi
Water 1,054 sq mi
Highest elevation

Santa Barbara County, California, officially the County of Santa Barbara, is located in . As of the , the population was 423,895. The is , and the largest city is .

Santa Barbara County comprises the Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA . Most of the county is part of the .Mainstays of the county’s economy include engineering, resource extraction , winemaking, agriculture, and education. The software development and tourism industries are important employers in the southern part of the county.

Southern Santa Barbara County is sometimes considered the northern cultural boundary of .

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Getting To And Around Channel Islands National Park

To access Channel Islands National Park, visitors must take a boat. Boats leave from Ventura Harbor, and to get there take the Victoria Avenue exit off of Highway 101. Turn left on Victoria, right on Olivas Park Drive and right on Spinnaker Drive. Follow signs to Island Tours/Island Packers to catch a boat.

There is no transportation on any of the islands and no bicycles are allowed, so getting around is done by foot, boat or swimming.

Best Time To Visit These Islands

The National Park can be visited all year round. The best time of year to visit the Channel Islands varies depending on what youre looking for in a vacation. However, the temperatures can vary greatly. Summers tend to be very dry and hot , while winters are often wet and mild with occasional snowfall in some areas . The best time to visit the channel islands is during the months of May, June, and September. The climate in this area of Southern California is moderate, and during these months there is little rain and an average of eight hours of sunshine per day. If youre looking for warm channel islands national park weather and clear skies, the best time to go is from late spring to early fall. However, if youre looking for cheaper rates and fewer crowds, winter can be a great time to visit.

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Where Are The Channel Islands California

Channel Islands National Park is located off the shores of Southern California. The park consists of five islands and can only be accessed through a ferry or a boat. With only 30,000 visitors per year, it is one of the best places to get away from the crowds.

To visit Channel Islands National Park, you need to get to Ventura California first. Ventura is located about an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles, as illustrated in the Channel Islands California map above. When you get to Ventura, you can then take a ferry to one of the islands. I will explain the fairy process in more detail below.

Booking The Ferry To Channel Islands National Park

Off Duty Destinations | Backcountry Camping in Channel Islands National Park!

According to the National Parks website, you must book your ferry ticket before you reserve a campsite at any of the campgrounds. The ferries fill up quicker than the campsites because of day trippers, so be sure to check Island Packers availability first.

The ferry to Santa Cruz leaves from Ventura Harbor. If you are traveling from out of town and want to take a morning ferry trip, I highly recommend booking a hotel near the harbor the night before. We stayed at the CountryInn& Suites By Carlson, Ventura, CA about a five minute drive from the harbor. They provide breakfast in the morning and we were able to fill up our cooler with fresh ice from their ice machine, which made things extremely easy for our early morning departure.

You need to check in at the harbor one hour before your ferry departs in order for them to load the camping gear. The ferry trip to Scorpion Anchorage takes about an hour and you will likely see some wildlife.

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If Camping On Channel Islands

  • Everything in the Day trip List Above and,
  • Backpack : The Osprey is known to be one of the best makers of backpacks out there. > Buy my Awesome Backpack
  • Tent: The tent can be one of the heaviest items you will be carrying. I just bought this new Nemo 2 Person tent, and it is so small and light! > Buy The Nemo Backpacking Tent
  • Jet Boil: This is a portable mini stove that will boil water for you. This is great if you are bringing dry food > Buy My Jet Boil
  • Propane for Jet Boiler: This can be bought at Walmart on the way to the Channel Islands.
  • Sleeping Pad: A sleeping pad is pretty much a small, packable inflatable mattress. I have tried many types of sleeping pads , and the one I have linked is probably the best one I have tried. It is my husbands sleeping pad. > Check Out My All-Time Favorite Sleeping Pad
  • Dry Food: Dry food is the perfect food for when you are backpacking. All you have to do is add boiling water. Let me warn you that most dry food doesnt taste amazing, but it is good enough after a long day of hiking. > Check Out Some Of My Favorite Dry Food
  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Medicine & Toiletries > Check This One Out
  • Hammock: Hammocks are a great way to lounge around. They are perfect to nap in. > Buy A Packable Hammock
  • Tripod: This is an optional item, but it is excellent for getting the ideal sunset pictures. > Check out this
  • Read All About My Backpacking Gear: Backpacking Essentials

    Santa Cruz Island Del Norte Campground

    • Size & Cost: 4 sites, $15 per site
    • Open: All Year
    • Location: In the backcountry 3.5 miles from the dock
    • Amenities: Vault toilets there is no fresh water
    • Demand: Variable. As with all Channel Islands campgrounds, reservations are required all year, and you must have proof of transportation to the island before you will receive a reservation confirmation.

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    Visiting Channel Islands National Park

    Channel Islands National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the country. Although the park is located near the central coast of California, it split off from the mainland so long ago that its ecosystem is very different from that of California. In fact, there are plants, animals, and archaeological resources living on the Channel Islands that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. Thousands of years of isolation have created a unique environment where diverse species thrive in a place that almost seems like paradise. Visiting the Channel Islands offers the experience to view southern California as it likely once was years ago. Continue on to learn all about the Channel Islands, how to visit them, what to experience there, and where to camp.

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