Channel Islands National Park

Fact Box

Channel Islands National Park
Established in 1980
249,353 acres
Visitation (2010) 375,256

Five islands off the coast of Southern California make up the Channel Islands National Park. The islands are beautiful landscapes of undisturbed southern Pacific Coast. The park has low visitation because the islands are not accessible by car, and therefore provide a private and pristine experience for the visitor. Visitors can hike miles of island trails, kayak the gorgeous coastline of the islands, and snorkel and swim in the underwater kelp forests. The park offers whale-watching trips and boat tours, and visitors are welcome to camp on the islands.

The islands boast remarkable geographic and biological diversity. The islands feature mountain ranges, sea caves, canyons, coastline cliffs, and beaches. The isolation of the islands has allowed evolution to flourish independent of the mainland, and the islands have many endemic species, like the island fox. Ancient endemic species include the pygmy mammoth!

There are thousands of sea birds that live on the islands—Anacapa Island hosts the largest breeding colony of Western sea gulls in the world! Six species of sea lions and seals bask on the rocky island coves. On San Miguel Island you can sometimes see over 30,000 of these animals on an island point. Gray whales, killer whales, and blue whales, the largest animals in the world, swim the waters.

There is rich cultural diversity to be seen too! Thousands of years ago, the Chumash Native Americans lived on these gorgeous islands, and the islands now have hundreds of archaeological sites to explore. Some of the sites date back almost 12,000 years!

The islands provide a rare and beautiful experience for park visitors, and with geographic, biological, and cultural diversity to explore and an array of outdoor activities, you will certainly not be short on things to do!