Summer is a great time to take advantage of our national parks and monuments. Many offer free or low-cost admissions and programs perfect for families. So this summer we will be featuring one of our country’s public lands every week and highlighting things you and your family can do there.
The Channel Islands
Image description: One of the many coves on the Channel Islands. Photo from the National Park Service.
The Channel Islands sometimes referred to, as the “North American Galapagos” is an incredible national park off the coast of southern California. Comprised of five distinct islands, this park offers a one-of-a-kind experience because of wildlife not found anywhere else in the world.
Each island in the park offers something unique that you can discover:
Anacapa Island: A great place to view the Winfield Scott shipwreck from land, also one of the best islands to snorkel through the beautiful kelp forests.
Santa Cruz Island: A fantastic place to visit if you like to swim, kayak or dive. Lucky bird watchers may be able to spot the scrub jay, only found on Santa Cruz Island!
Santa Rosa Island: Whether you decide to hike through Black Mountain or stay along Water Canyon Beach, Santa Rosa provides breathtaking views no matter where you decide to go.
San Miguel Island: This island contains an abundance of wildlife. Harbors are bountiful with gulls, pelicans and auklets. You can also watch the western meadowlark, rock wren and sound sparrow in their natural habitat.
Santa Barbara Island: An island in recovery, Santa Barbara is home to a number of different rare plant and animal life. If you dive off the coast of this island you may just find sea stars, sea urchins and gorgeous Garibaldi fish.
The Channel Islands are a great place to visit during the summer because of the many whale watching opportunities. Throughout the summer you can view the largest animal in the world, the endangered blue whale, off the coast of the islands! Other whales, such as the humpback and the orca, can also be seen in the summer months.
You can see the marine animals from on high points throughout the islands as well as through telescopes located outside the visitor’s centers.
Whale watching boating trips are also available if you want a close-up view. For more information, please check out island transportation. You can find a full list of guided tours on the schedule of events.
Whether you are visiting the islands for the wildlife or for the number of outdoor activities, the Channel Islands provide a rare insight into the southern California landscape.