Channel Islands National Park
Park 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. However only four mammals are endemic to the islands. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world. 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.
Nature Programs
Every Tuesday and Thursday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, rangers conduct a live underwater video program from Anacapa Island. This unique program features an interpretive dive through one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, the kelp forest. Visitors may view this program without ever getting their feet wet, from the landing dock at Anacapa Island or the mainland visitor center. The "Parks as Classrooms" program brings the park to local schools.

Because concession boats often fill to capacity with day visitors much faster than campground limits are met, transportation is the first requirement campers must secure for an overnight trip to Channel Islands National Park.

Transport to the islands is available year-round through these concessionaires:

Island Packers (805) 642-1393; for boat travel departing from Ventura and Channel Islands Harbors to all of the islands.

Truth Aquatics (805) 962-1127; for boat travel departing from Santa Barbara Harbor to all of the islands.

Channel Islands Aviation (805) 987-1301; for air travel to Santa Rosa Island.

Private boaters or kayakers who camp on the islands must have the required camping permit and should be aware that there are no moorings available and few protected anchorages. Contact the Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center for landing information. For camping reservations call 1 (800) 365-CAMP (2267).


Camping conditions on the islands are primitive and users must camp in designated campsites. All campgrounds are equipped with pit toilets and picnic tables. Except at Santa Rosa and East Santa Cruz Islands water is not available and must be brought with you. Due to extreme fire danger the islands are closed to campfires. During the winter campfires are allowed in the established fire rings on the beach at Scorpion Bay on East Santa Cruz Island. Enclosed camp stoves are permitted on all islands year-round.

San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands have windbreaks for each campsite. Campsites are generally located close to one another and if the campground is filled to capacity conditions may be crowded. No trash service is provided and all campers must pack out their own trash. Be prepared to carry your camping gear from the landing areas to the campgrounds.

The campground on East Anacapa Island is 1/2 mile from the dock landing and up 154 stairs. There are 7 campsites with a campground capacity of 30 people.

The Santa Barbara campground is 1/2 mile uphill from the dock landing. There are 8 campsites with a campground capacity of 30 people.

The San Miguel campground is a 1 mile hike uphill from the beach landing and has windbreaks. There are 9 campsites with a total campground capacity of 30 people. Fewer than 200 people per year ever get the experience of camping on San Miguel Island.

The Santa Rosa campground in Water Canyon is 1 1/2 mile miles across the flats from the pier landing, or 1/4 mile from the airstrip. There are 15 campsites with a 50 person campground capacity. The campground has windbreaks, running water (most people bring drinking water) and one shower.

The Santa Cruz Island campground is in Scorpion Valley and has 40 sites and allows 4-6 people per site. The campsites are spread out along the valley floor 1/2 to 1 mile up the flats from the beach landing.


Campers must be prepared for the primitive campground facilities and weather conditions. Supplies and equipment are not available on the islands. Gear must be transported up ladders at most landing sites and carried some distance to the campgrounds. The boat concessionaire requires that bags weigh less than 40 pounds.

You may get wet during loading and off loading, so it is advised to waterproof your gear. An extra pair of shoes packed in waterproof material is recommended. Mark your gear with your name and island destination as some trips are to multiple islands.

Campers should plan to layer clothing, as weather conditions tend to change from cool and damp in the mornings to bright, warm, and windy during the afternoons. Clothing that protects against the wind is advisable year-round.

One half of Channel Islands National Park is comprised of the waters surrounding the islands and extending one mile offshore. The park waters provide numerous recreational opportunities to include sailing to secluded anchorages, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and exploring over 175 miles of coastline in the park. Private boaters may land on all five islands within Channel Islands National Park throughout the year.


Boaters should always file a formal float plan with the harbor master before departing. Family and/or friends should also be informed of your float plan. Remember to be flexible with your plans. Weather should always determine your course of action.

Major shipping lanes lie between the islands and the mainland. Private boaters should be aware of their location and use caution when crossing them. All boaters should listen to the Coast Guard notice to mariners broadcast on VHF channel 22 since the waters in and surrounding Channel Islands National Park are often closed for military operations.


A permit is not required to land or hike on East Anacapa Island or at Frenchy's Cove. West Anacapa Island (except at Frenchy's Cove) is a protected research natural area and is closed to visitor access. Visitors are allowed on Middle Anacapa only when accompanied by a park ranger. Private boaters must anchor a reasonable distance from the Park Service's and concessionarie's moorings. It is recommended that one person stay on board the boat at all times. The landing dock is available for unloading purposes only. No craft, including kayaks and inflatables, should be left moored to the dock.

A permit is not required to land or hike on Santa Barbara Island. Access to the island is permitted only at the landing cove. The landing dock is available for unloading purposes only. No craft, including kayaks and inflatables, should be left moored to the dock. Please lift your inflatables up to the upper landing or beach them on the rock shelf on the seaward side of the dock.

There are no piers or moorings at San Miguel Island, therefore, all private boaters must anchor. Overnight anchorages are restricted to Cuyler Harbor and Tyler Bight. Visitors may land only on the beach at Cuyler Harbor. No landing is allowed on rocks or islets.

On Santa Rosa Island boaters may land along coastline and on beaches without a permit for day-use only. Beaches between & including Skunk Point and East Point are closed from March 1st to September 15th in order to protect the threatened snowy plover.

Private boaters may land on the eastern 24% of Santa Cruz Island without a permit at any time. This area is owned by the National Park Service and is east of the property line between Prisoners Harbor on the north side and Valley Anchorage on the south side.

Boaters may contact the Santa Cruz Island ranger via VHF Channel 16 for information prior to landing. A landing pier is avaliable at Scorpion, but dingies are not to be left tied to the pier. Boaters should be prepared for beach landings at all other island locations. Due to surf and swell conditions, boaters should use extreme caution when making surf-landings at any beach. The pier at Prisoners is unsafe and is not to be used at any time. A permit to land on the western 74% of Santa Cruz Island is required from The Nature Conservancy. A fee is charged and no overnight island use is permitted. It may take 10-12 days to process the request.

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