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Overview

Comprising the five northernmost islands in a seven-island chain — Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel — Channel Islands National Park is nicknamed "America's Galapagos" for its ecological distinctiveness from the Southern California mainland. (Santa Catalina and San Clemente are the two islands that aren't part of the park.) Like the Galapagos Islands, the Channel Islands are home to animals that are typically smaller than those on the mainland, such as the diminutive — and endangered — island fox. San Miguel Island, the westernmost of the park's islands, hosts one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the ...

Comprising the five northernmost islands in a seven-island chain — Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel — Channel Islands National Park is nicknamed "America's Galapagos" for its ecological distinctiveness from the Southern California mainland. (Santa Catalina and San Clemente are the two islands that aren't part of the park.) Like the Galapagos Islands, the Channel Islands are home to animals that are typically smaller than those on the mainland, such as the diminutive — and endangered — island fox. San Miguel Island, the westernmost of the park's islands, hosts one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in the world when 35,000 pinnipeds (seals) make their temporary summer home at Point Bennett. The park also includes one mile of Pacific Ocean from the shore of each island, popular places to sea kayak, scuba dive, and snorkel. Both overnight and day visitors to the park reach the islands via ferries that run out of the harbors at Oxnard, Ventura, and Santa Barbara, crossing the Santa Barbara Channel en route. The ride is anything but dull, as dolphins are almost guaranteed to make an appearance. The channel is also one of the best places in the world to sea blue whales.

Eric Peterson
About the Expert

Eric Peterson has written and contributed to numerous Frommer’s guidebooks covering the American West, including Montana & Wyoming, Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks, and Texas.

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Eric Peterson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring to fall; winters tend to be rainy and the ferry schedule is limited.