Channel Islands National Park

Scene Serene: The tranquil spread at Channel Islands National Park, California (courtesy, National Park Service)

Annual visitation to the park's mainland visitor center is 300,000. Visitation to the islands and waters is low, with about 30,000 visitors traveling to the islands, and another 60,000 who go only into park waters. Although most visitation occurs in the summer, migrating gray whales and spectacular wildflower displays attract visitors in the winter and spring. Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park, as well as to dive, as the days are usually sunny with minimal winds and clear ocean water.

The islands within the park extend along the southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to just north of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura.

Channel Islands National Park
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, California 93001

Visitor Center: 805-658-5730
Business Office: 805-658-5700
San Miguel Hiking Permits: 805-658-5711

Ventura is located 70 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Santa Barbara. From the 101 Freeway: Northbound, take the Telephone Road exit, left onto Telephone, then right onto Olivas Park Drive to Harbor Boulevard, where Olivas Park Drive runs straight into Spinnaker Drive; southbound, take the Seaward exit left onto Harbor Boulevard, then proceed on Harbor to Spinnaker Drive and turn right. The visitor center is located at the very end of Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. Free parking is available at the beach parking lot.

Ventura is serviced by Amtrak, Greyhound, and airport shuttle services from the Santa Barbara and Los Angeles International Airports. Oxnard Airport has scheduled commuter service.

The park concessioner offers regular trips throughout the year to Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San Miguel Islands. For information, rates, and reservations, write or call: Island Packers, Inc., 1867 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA 93001, 805-642-1393. It is wise to make reservations well in advance throughout the year. Channel Islands Aviation, located at the Camarillo airport, is the park's concessionaire for air travel to Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Islands. Trips vary from one-day to multi-day camping excursions. For prices, schedules, and reservations, write or call: Channel Islands Aviation, 305 Durley Avenue, Camarillo, California 93000, 805-987-1301.

The park is open year-round. The Robert J. Lagomarsino visitor center hours are: Labor Day through Memorial Day, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends; Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekends. The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Climate is mild, with little temperature variation year-round. However, be prepared for high winds, fog, and sea spray at any time. Visitors to the islands should dress in layers, with short and long pants, windbreaker, hat, sunscreen, and waterproof outer clothing. Wear sturdy hiking shoes with nonslip soles.

If you plan to take your own boat to the islands, refer to National Ocean Survey Charts 18720, 18729, and 18756. The Santa Barbara Channel is subject to sudden changes in sea and wind conditions. Good cruising guides may be purchased at the park visitor center. Kayakers may obtain an informational brochure from the park visitor center. Off Santa Barbara Island, anchoring is usually confined to the east side because of prevailing winds and waves. Anchorages on Anacapa Island include East Fish Camp and, in good weather, Frenchy's Cove. Anchoring at either island can be hazardous. Have adequate ground tackle aboard. To go ashore on the islands requires a skiff, raft, or small boat. No special permits are necessary to land on Anacapa or Santa Barbara.

However, to visit Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and San Miguel islands you need a permit from the park headquarters. You may anchor on the north side of San Miguel at Cuyler Harbor, or on the south side at Tyler Bight. Cuyler Harbor is usually a safe anchorage—under normal weather conditions—and is the only landing area on San Miguel. Sea conditions around San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands are often rough; only experienced boaters with sturdy vessels should attempt the trip. Depending on sea conditions around Santa Rosa Island, you can anchor in Bechers Bay or Johnson's Lee. For details on landing, hiking, or camping on park islands, contact the park headquarters before your trip because special restrictions apply. Landing on privately owned Santa Cruz is by permit only. Call The Nature Conservancy at 805-964-7839. Permits and regulations protect the islands' delicate resources, ensure your safety, and safeguard private landowner's rights.

The waters for one nautical mile around Anacapa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands are California State Ecological Reserves. State fish and game regulations apply. Fishing requires a California fishing license. Take only those plants and animals specifically permitted under California fish and game laws. In some areas in the ecological reserves, such as the north side of East Anacapa Island, marine life is totally protected; nothing may be taken. In other reserve areas commercial and sportfishing and diving for invertebrates are allowed. Ecological reserve regulations and a map of closed areas are available from park headquarters. Marine mammals such as whales, seals, and sea lions and endangered species, such as the brown pelican, are protected by law and may not be harassed or disturbed. Island rangers are deputized fish and game wardens. They can provide more information on fish, game, and marine resource protection regulations. There are accessible tidepools on Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel Islands. Do not collect anything; collecting is illegal. Leave animals and shells for others to enjoy, too. If you pick up an animal, return it to where you found it; that spot is that animal's home territory. Walk carefully—rocks can be slippery. Discharge of substances and removal of cultural resources are prohibited within the six-nautical-mile sanctuary boundary. No pets ashore, and no open fires allowed.

Obtain a complete listing of the current safety guidelines from the park headquarters prior to your visit.


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