Top Ten Camps in North America
Think of a remote perch atop a wind-scoured rib of igneous rock that's five miles long, a quarter-mile wide, and a stone's throw from southern California's busy coast. From the drop-off point at Landing Cove, the seven-pad campground (the only place you're allowed to sleep on Anacapa's three islets) is 154 stair steps up and a half-mile hike in. And while the view from your tent is sure to please, East Anacapa's panoramic piece de resistance is the sunset, viewed from Inspiration Point, a 15-minute walk to the west.
Prowl the islet's 1.5-mile loop trail to scope out the local residents Anacapa hosts the world's largest colony of endangered California brown pelicans, not to mention amorous sea lions, harbor seals, and, from April to August, migrating blue whales. From Landing Cove, don a mask and fins to navigate the Channel Islands' famous kelp forests; add scuba gear to explore the Winfield Scott, a steamer that went down in 1853. Circumnavigation via kayak is the best way to check out the island's arches, lava tubes, and sea caves (but don't enter the caves unless you have appropriate experience, as the currents are quite tricky). Ventura-based OAARS (805-642-2912) rents kayaks by the day, along with full-day guide services.
Anacapa Island is 60 miles west of Los Angeles. Head north on U.S. 101 to Ventura, and then take a 77-minute Island Packers ferry ride ($48 round-trip; 805-642-1393). To reserve a site (about $10), call the National Park Reservation Service (800-365-2267) at least a month in advance. For park information, call 805-658-5730.
Next Time Try
Little Tybee Island, Georgia
Avoid the mucky salt-marsh interior of this 7,700-acre isle, pitching your tent instead beneath the wind-bent cabbage palms along its empty sands. Bring your binoculars for glimpses of buntings, tanagers, and northern parulas.
Location: 25 miles east of Savannah
Details: camp on the southern tip of the island; no fees
Prime Time: October to March
Tooker's Island, Isle Royale NP, Michigan
Paddle ashore and head for the central clearing in this conifer-forested nubbin of rock off Isle Royale's southeast coast. Settle down in either of its shelters before striking out to explore the waters of nearby Raspberry and Caribou Islands.
Location: 30 miles southeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario
Details: two Adirondack shelters; park fee, $4 per person per day; free camping permit required
Prime Time: June to September
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication