Channel Islands National Park is a cluster of islands off the coast of California, close enough to see it, but far enough that it takes more than an hour to reach by ferry. Last month I finally visited and hiked on Santa Cruz island. I was accompanied by dolphins and sea lions on the ferry and rewarded with panoramic views hiking along the bluffs.
Having been to over ten National Parks, I feel like Channel Islands is unique due to its remote geography, keeping most of the park in almost pristine conditions. It’s visited by fewer people and does not suffer from overdevelopment, which is uncommon among many parks.
A couple reasons why Channel Islands National Park is worth a visit.
Sense of Wonder
Three weeks later and I’m still awed at the sense of wonder that comes with the remoteness of the islands. As the ferry pulled up to the island, I realized there’s no one on the island besides a couple of campers. The isolation was exciting and made me want to explore the island that only few (relatively speaking) have set foot on. And as the ferry picked up the last passengers, we headed back to Ventura leaving the island just as empty as we found it in the morning.
The Channel Islands are far enough from human development that the animals live in almost-natural habitats. This allows them to freely roam the mountains and waters surrounding it. On the island, I only saw ravens but there were supposedly foxes as well. The best part was the ferry ride where we saw pods of dolphin swimming around the boat.
Santa Cruz island has several coastal and mountainous trails. We hiked along the bluffs from Prisoner’s Harbor to Cavern Point to Potato Harbor with cliffs and the ocean on our right and luscious green mountains on our left. The view from Potato Harbor was beautiful – an inlet surrounded by cliffs and different shades of blue as the ocean increased in depth.
Although I only hiked Santa Cruz island, each of the islands offer unique landscapes, wildlife and water activities. There are options to do overnight camping as well but day hikes are very easy if camping’s not your thing.
I’d recommend making a trip to the Channel Islands if you’re ever in the area. The remoteness of the islands minimizes development, making the park very well-kept and close to its original condition.