Channel Islands National Park Photo Gallery

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Established in 1980, Channel Islands National Park consists of five gloriously unspoiled islands. The isles are relatively remote—fewer than 30,000 visitors make the trip each year. But low visitation has been a boon for preservation, allowing the park's native animals and plants to thrive.  
Credit: Corel 
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A dirt trail on Santa Rosa Island descends a little more than a mile to Water Canyon Beach, where pristine shores edged by sea caves, dunes, and rock ledges continue to Soledad Peak. The wild, undisturbed beaches here double as scenic campsites August through December.  
Credit: Derek Lohuis/NPS 
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Waves have sculpted the natural architecture of Anacapa Island—deep sea caves and steep cliffs now shelter a nesting population of endangered brown pelicans. In spring, giant yellow clusters of coreopsis bloom on Anacapa's hillsides.  
Credit: Derek Lohuis/NPS 
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Point Bennett, the westernmost tip of San Miguel Island, is the final destination of a guided hike. The trail follows coastline for about a mile before climbing Nidever Canyon's side. A stunning display of more than 30,000 harbor seals and sea lions culminates the 16-mile journey.  
Credit: NPS 
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Sleek-bodied pinnipeds bob in and out of the water, alternating long spans of swimming with sun bathing and sand flipping. Cathedral Cove and Pinniped Point overlook the curious animals perched atop rocky posts, but you can hear their legendary barking miles away.  
Credit: NPS 
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December through April is whale-spotting season. Scope out the gray behemoths from the visitor center or sail into their territory with a park concessionaire.  
Credit: NPS 
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Free from the threats of most predators, thousands of birds nest on the Channel Islands. Anacapa's rocky shores shelter the world's largest breeding colony of Western gulls, a yellow-billed marine bird with a white chest and dark gray wings.  
Credit: Getty 
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Of course the on-land attractions are only half the allure of Channel Islands. This national park also boasts some of the country's best diving and snorkeling spots, with massive kelp forests, sea caves and coves, and copious underwater wildlife. The best spots are off the coast of Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and the eastern Santa Cruz islands.  
Credit: Jeff Rotman/Digital Vision/Getty 
 
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