Channel Islands National Park
Something in our salty blood draws us to the sea; something in our imagination beckons us to islands. Channel Islands National Park encompasses both, with almost two hundred square miles of ocean and five of the eight Channel Islands: Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa Rosa.
Each island is a fascinating world unto itself, fragrant with flowers and sagebrush and musical with birdsong, wind, and the murmuring sea. Each bears evidence of thousands of years of human presence. These remarkable islands are miniature versions of the California many visitors may have thought was lost long ago, interconnected with one another and with the mainland by some of the most pristine and wildlife-rich waters in the eastern Pacific.
Few people really know Channel Islands National Park, even though the islands lie just 11 to 70 miles off the coast of densely populated southern California. Maybe the islands' tendency to disappear in the haze makes them seem too distant or dreamlike; perhaps the waters separating them from the mainland look all too real or forbidding.
Yet this distance makes the islands ideal for quiet, uninterrupted time alone or with family and friends. They are wonderful places to hike, camp, snorkel, kayak, sketch, take pictures, or simply relax to the soothing sounds of the natural world. Campers witness shimmering dawns and brilliant sunsets, and may gaze at stars and planets undimmed by city lights. Visitors discover other delights here, too, with refreshingly clean air and peacefulness rarely found on the nearby mainland.