Channel Islands National Park is a United States National Park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, the park is relatively undeveloped. All of the islands in the park are currently or were at one time part of Rancho Santa Catalina of the California Channel Islands, and all except Santa Barbara Island were owned at one time by James Lick. Santa Barbara Island is the only island in the park that hosts a year-round research station run by the US National Park Service and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The park covers 249,561 acres (1,011.07 km2) of land and water, making it slightly larger in area than the state of Rhode Island. The five island groups within the park are San Miguel Island, the Santa Barbara Islands, Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, and Santa Rosa Island. The park is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, including some which are endemic to the islands.
The islands were purchased by the United States Government in 1938, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared them a national monument in 1939. In 1980, Congress designated the adjacent waters a marine reserve, and in 1986, the national monument and marine reserve were combined to form the national park that exists today.
The park encompasses four of the five islands in the Channel Islands archipelago: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. The fifth island, Santa Barbara, hosts a year-round research station run by the US National Park Service and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The park also includes the waters surrounding the islands, from mean high tide to six nautical miles (11 km) offshore.The four principal islands are all located within the Santa Barbara Channel, and have a Mediterranean climate that is moderated by the Pacific Ocean. Santa Cruz Island, the largest of the islands, is home to the largest number of endemic species in the park. It also hosts theUC Santa Cruz Island Reserve, a research site for the University of California, Santa Cruz.
San Miguel Island is the westernmost island in the park, and is home to a US Coast Guard station and a small airport. The island is also used for ranching, sheep herding, andulex hunting.
Santa Rosa Island is the second largest island in the park, and is managed by Channel Islands National Park as a wilderness area. The island is home to a large population of deer, as well as the island fox, a species unique to the Santa Rosa Island.
The smallest island in the park, Anacapa, is also the most ecologically diverse. The island is home to two species of lizard, the Anacapa Island coachwhip and the Anacapa Island horned lizard, both of which are found nowhere else in the world. The island is also home to the endangered Anacapa Island loggerhead shrike.
The park also includes the waters surrounding the islands, from mean high tide to six nautical miles (11 km) offshore. The marine environment of the park is incredibly diverse, and includes kelp forests, sea grass meadows, coral reefs, and open ocean. The park is home to a variety of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, dolphins, and whales.
Photos of Channel Islands National Park
View of brown rocky mountains at Channel Islands National Park (Unsplash.com)
White lighthouse among green pastures in Channel Islands National Park (Unsplash.com)
Blue bay with cliffs in Channel Islands National Park (Unsplash.com)
A beautiful view of the harbor on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park (Unsplash.com)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Channel Islands National Park
Where are the Channel Islands located?
The park is located off the coast of southern California, about 80 miles from Los Angeles and 20 miles from Santa Barbara.
How to get to Channel Islands National Park?
There are several ways to get to Channel Islands National Park. The most common way is to take a boat or ferry from the mainland. There are also some small airports on the islands that offer flights from the mainland.
What to do in the park?
Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of activities, including camping, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. The park also offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including tidepool walks, Junior Ranger programs, and wilderness hikes.