The Channel Islands National Park consists of five islands off the Southern California coast. Often called the North American Galapagos, the Channel Islands are home to over 145 species found nowhere else in the world!
Channel Islands National Park recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Designated a US National Park on March 5, 1980, it's a magnificent national treasure.
All Photos © Doug Mangum Pause the slideshow by moving your pointer over the photo.
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary extends from mean high tide to six nautical miles offshore the National Park. Here is a really interesting interactive, animated map showing the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary boundaries.
The adventurous souls who take the time and make the crossing to Channel Islands National Park are richly rewarded. Over 175 miles of stunning California coastline, just waiting to be explored.
The best way to begin planning your Channel Island trip is to decide on an activity. If you already know what you want to do on the islands, follow this link to plan your island trips.
Do you want to go wildlife watching on the boat, or do something a little more active? Maybe you'd like to spend the weekend camping out there...
Here are some ideas of what you can do in Channel Islands National Park:
Bald Eagle Web Cam - One of the most awesome sites in the Channel Islands National Park can be viewed right from the comfort of your own home! Watch to see bald eagle chicks hatch, grow up and take their first flights. NPS Photo
Picnicking - Picnic tables are available on all islands except San Miguel. Pack a lunch. Bring plenty to drink, and enjoy being "away from it all" for the afternoon. NPS Photo
Hiking - There are easy to strenuous hiking trails on each island. Click on the island links above to access specific hiking trails maps. Photo © Doug Mangum
Camping - Available year-round, there is one campground on each island. Visit the individual island for more information. Backcountry camping is available year-round on Santa Cruz Island and from August 15 through December 31 on Santa Rosa Island. Photo © Doug Mangum
Boating & Kayaking - This is a great way to see multiple islands during your excursion. Due to challenging and quickly-changing weather and ocean conditions, I recommend you go with a local expert, for safety's sake. Photo © Doug Mangum
SCUBA Diving & Snorkeling - Some of the best underwater exploration in the world is right here in Channel Islands National Park. These activities are best around Anacapa & Eastern Santa Cruz Island. Let one of our local diving experts show you around. Photo © Doug Mangum
Fishing - To fish in the Channel Islands National Park you must have a valid California fishing license. Fishing in the Marine Sanctuary waters is prohibited, but there are plenty of places to fish outside the protected waters. Bechers Bay on Santa Rosa Island is one of the best surf-fishing places in the park. Photo © Doug Mangum
Tidepooling - Explore the intertidal zone between land and sea. Frenchy's Cove on Anacapa Island is a great place for tidepooling. The isolation of these pristine island tidepools encourages an abundance of intertidal life. The tide needs to be low for the best viewing. November - March is the best time for tidepooling. Here are a few more tide pool tips from my friend who has a website about Northern California. NPS Photo
Whale & Dolphin Watching - Rare Blue Whales & Humpback Whales migrate through the channel from July - September. See Gray Whales here from late-December through March. Dolphins swim in these waters year-round. Photo © Doug Mangum.
Seal & Sea Lion Viewing - California sea lions and harbor seals are seen in abundance on the shores of Channel Islands National Park. The isolation of San Miguel makes it an ideal breeding ground for more pinniped species than any other place on the planet. Photo © Doug Mangum
Bird Watching - The Channel Islands are home to the largest breeding colonies of seabirds in southern California. Shore bird viewing is best done on Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa or San Miguel Islands. The Island scrub jay exists no where else in the world except Santa Cruz Island. Photo © Doug Mangum
Wildflower Viewing - With normal rainfall, peak blooming season is late winter through spring. The farther east and south the island is, the earlier the blooming season. The best wildflower displays are on Santa Barbara, Anacapa and San Miguel Islands. Photo © Doug Mangum
Special Use Permits are available for special events and group gatherings (25 or more), like weddings, public assembly, and non-profit activities. For more information about obtaining a special use permit, contact the park's Chief Ranger at (805) 658-5717. NPS Photo
The best time to visit Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary depends on what you want to do there. Every season has something unique to offer. Here's a fun interactive website about the seasons in the Channel Islands.
During the last ice age, the four Northern Channel Islands were a single landmass just 4.7 miles offshore. To see how the Channel Islands may have been formed, watch the animated videos on this website. Really interesting if you like that sort of thing.
Archeological evidence shows that Native Americans occupied these islands for more than 10,000 years. All natives were removed in the early 1800s to make way for European ranching operations.
More than 200 years of sheep- and cattle-grazing had a devastating effect on the islands. After years of ecological restoration, preservation efforts are beginning to pay off and the island habitats are becoming more balanced. Native plants and animals are beginning to thrive again, as non-native plants and animals are removed.
The three Southern Channel Islands not included in the National Park are:
San Nicholas & San Clemente Islands, controlled by The US Navy, and Santa Catalina Island California, now a vacation resort off the coast of Los Angeles.
Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary protects a wealth of natural resources for future generations to enjoy. Take advantage of this beautiful national park the next time you visit Santa Barbara County. Begin planning your Channel Island trips today!
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Many of the beautiful Channel Island photos used in this section have been provided by Doug Mangum. To see more of his work, visit MyChannelIslands.com.