Channel Islands National Park, Santa Barbara, CA | CruiseBe
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Channel Islands National Park


Natural sights
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national park, islands, nature, sightseeing



Channel Islands National Park is a United States national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped. The park covers 249,561 acres (100,994 ha) of which 79,019 acres (31,978 ha) are owned by the federal government. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 76% of Santa Cruz Island, the largest island in the park.

Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. It was designated a U.S. National Monument on April 26, 1938, and a National Biosphere Reserve in 1976. It was promoted to a National Park on March 5, 1980. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles around Channel Islands National Park.

 

Geography

The islands within the park extend along the Southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to San Pedro, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura.

The park consists of 249,354 acres (100,910 ha), half of which are under the ocean, and includes the islands of:

  • San Miguel 9,325 acres (3,774 ha)
  • Santa Rosa 52,794 acres (21,365 ha)
  • Anacapa 699 acres (283 ha)
  • Santa Barbara 639 acres (259 ha)
  • Santa Cruz 60,645 acres (24,542 ha) 76% owned by the Nature Conservancy, 24% by the National Park Service

Flora and fauna

More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. However, only three mammals are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. The spotted skunk and Channel Islands fox also are endemic. The island fence lizard is also endemic to the Channel Islands. Other animals in the park include island scrub jay, harbor seal, California sea lion, island fox, spotted skunk, island night lizard, barn owl, American kestrel, horned lark and meadowlark and California brown pelican. 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 on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years.

Tourism

Annual visitation to the park's mainland visitor center is 300,000. Visitation to the islands and waters is low, with about 30,000 visitors traveling to the islands, and another 60,000 who go only into park waters. Although most visitation occurs in the summer, migrating gray whales and spectacular wildflower displays attract visitors in the winter and spring. Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park, as well as for diving, as the days are usually sunny, with minimal winds and clear ocean water. Camping is a popular activity on Santa Cruz Island, with visitors arriving at Prisoners harbor on the north shore and staying in the valley beyond. A new island visitor center opened at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island on April 6, 2009.

Recreation

Channel Islands National Park offers a wide variety of recreation activities, kayaking through the Sea Caves being one of the most popular. Backpacking, camping, day hiking, scuba diving, and spearfishing are among the activities available to visitors. The Channel Islands National Park is renowned for its large number of complex, beautiful Sea Caves. Based on ocean conditions and ferry availability, Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is the most visited area in the park for day and camping visitors. It is recommended that inexperienced visitors use caution when visiting the national park due to changing ocean conditions in this unique ecosystem. The National Park Service authorizes a small number of guide and outfitter services.​

Vessels

The CINP unit operates several vessels in the waters of the park, including the following:

  • Surf Ranger LCM-8 landing craft, 74 ft.
  • research diving boat Pacific Ranger 56 ft.
  • Sea Ranger II 58 ft.
  • Ocean Ranger 100 ft.
  • Sea Ranger 41 ft (retired).



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