10 Spots You Should Definitely See at Channel Islands National Park

Spring at Anacapa Island, Channel Islands National Park

Truth be told, there's no need to go very far out or down the beaten road to discover endangered fauna and exquisite flora that surpasses your expectations.

The Channel Islands National Park is only 12 miles from Los Angeles and happens to be one of the USA's least human-exploited national parks.

Wondering what’s there to explore at Channel Islands National Park? Check out one of our ten recommendations for spots you should definitely hit while at the park.


The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel


One of California, Ventura's greatest recreational hubs, dubbed "America's Galapagos," is open to multi-day backpacking vacations.

The Channel Islands National Park's Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center has a bookshop, an exhibition of various aquatic and marine species, and installations that highlight the distinctive features of each reserve island.

Guests can also see the half-hour film "A Treasure in the Sea," which is screened in the theater during the day. The completely accessibility-friendly visitor center is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The only holidays are Thanksgiving and December 25th when the tourist center is closed for business.


Painted Cave


There's a stunning, world-record-holding geological cavern just beyond the Central Coast that nearly no one knows about.

Inside Channel Islands National Park, this massive sea tomb (largest in North America and among the longest in the world) pierces a quarter-mile along Santa Cruz Island. Full-day escorted expeditions include transportation to islands (through Island Packers ferry services from Ventura) as well as all paddling equipment.

Visitors are encouraged to have some paddling and swimming skills. Cunningham claims the caverns are normally a 2-mile paddle (with a ferry ride back). There are many other, smaller tunnels to explore, as well as snorkeling in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

 Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara islands, and San Miguel are all part of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, which covers 1,470 square miles of coastal waters.

The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a peaceful haven just off the southern coast, making it a popular destination for sailors, anglers, and wildlife and water lovers.

There are several ways to become connected to the national marine sanctuary via either community-based involvement or volunteering opportunities.


Anacapa Island

 Anacapa Island

The most prominent species on Anacapa is undoubtedly seabirds. Because there are few dangers on Anacapa, migrating birds utilize it as a breeding ground.

While the greatest nesting community of endangered California brown pelicans may be found towards the West Anacapa's high cliffs, all of Anacapa's islands host the world's biggest breeding communities of western seagulls.

Western gulls start nesting around April, and their small nests may be found mere inches off-island paths. In June and July, feathery chicks hatch, while visitors see them flying away from nests in early August.


Santa Barbara Island


For centuries, Native American tribes, most likely the Tongva and Chumash, colonized the Island. Santa Barbara has archeological remains going back as far as 4,000 years, suggesting that this may have functioned as a layover for travelers from the other Channel Islands and the mainland.

At present, Santa Barbara Island is an excellent spot for diving, snorkeling, swimming, and kayaking, even though there aren't any lifeguards in the area, so make sure you have some experience from beforehand with these activities.


Potato Harbor Road

 POTATO HARBOR ROAD - Channel Islands National Park

If you're on a short trip to Santa Cruz Island, and you're not too keen on covering Smugglers Cove, then this trek is for you.

The Bluffs Trail and the Cavern Point Trail enhance the beauty of Potato Harbor Overlook, making it a terrific place to spend some time on the island. There are a few ruts on the route, but they are simple to navigate.

When you reach the trail's finish, you'll be rewarded with spectacular sights of the Potato Harbor. Keep your eyes peeled for the Santa Barbara Channel. On a good day, the views over the mainland are breathtaking.


Cavern Point

Cavern Point - Channel Islands National Park - My Nature Book Adventure 

Hikers may walk over to the island's biggest sea caverns on the Cavern Point Loop route on Santa Cruz Island, which is famous for its caves. Although visitors probably wouldn't have great vision inside the caves, they will be treated to spectacular sights of the coastline.

These views reach all across the Point Concepcion to the Palos Verdes Peninsula on days when there isn't any fog. Hundreds of indigenous flora and fauna inhabit the Channel Islands but the islands' historic livestock and military activities have left a mark like nothing else.

Invasive plants and animal species have thrown the majority of the region into disarray, almost wiping away numerous species, including the stunningly cute Island fox.


Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail (Scorpion Ranch)


Scorpion Canyon Circular Path is a moderately difficult 7.2-kilometer circuit trail in Ventura that boasts spectacular wildflowers. The route is open year-round and provides a variety of activities.

The ideal advice to hikers would be to trek clockwise beginning on Smugglers Road onwards to the oil wells and finally down towards the Scorpion Canyon and straight out from the beach if they want to dodge tough climbs.


Water Canyon Beach

 WATER CANYON BEACH  Channel Islands National Park - My Nature Book Adventures

This one is heaven for less experienced travelers. Frontcountry lodging (camping not glamping!) at Santa Rosa Island Campground in Water Canyon, is a good option for less seasoned travelers on the island.

The Water Canyon Campground, hidden away in the canyon to shelter guests from strong northwestern winds, provides amazing island scenery, access to fantastic hiking options, and a neighboring white-sand beach.

For Archeology geeks, archeologists discovered the remnants of an ancient creature known as the dwarf mammoth on Santa Rosa Island. In the Pleistocene Era, these small mammoths wandered in the island's meadows and woodlands, reaching heights of a mere four to six feet.


Anacapa Island Lighthouse

 Anacapa Lighthouse

The Anacapa Island Lighthouse, situated on the maximum altitude of East Anacapa Island, had become a vital resource for commerce and tourist boats.

Even during the 1942 Pacific Coast blackout, the lighthouse was turned off and some men were assigned to a Coastal Observation Station. Meanwhile, in the war, the Navy took over the Coast Guard and managed the lighthouse. 

The islands are a walker's wonderland, with miles of beautiful shoreline trails studded with stacks upon stacks of rural towns and villages that will revive the explorer in just about anyone. If you want a world-class experience that isn’t stale, visit the Channel Islands National Park.

Check each one of these amazing locations off of your bucket list, with our National Parks Adventure Book , Adventure Notes, or build your own adventure bundle with our Adventure Bundle Builder today. Your story starts now!
Helping you to explore more 😃

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.