Introducing Channel Islands National Park
Don’t let this off-the-beaten-path national park loiter for too long on your lifetime to-do list. It’s easier to access than you might think, and the payoff is immense. Imagine hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, camping and whale-watching, and doing it all amid a raw, end-of-the-world landscape. Rich with unique species of flora and fauna, tide pools and kelp forests, the islands are home to 145 plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world, earning them the nickname ‘California’s Galapagos.’
Geographically, the Channel Islands are an eight-island chain off the Southern California coast, stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Five of them – San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa and tiny Santa Barbara – comprise Channel Islands National Park. Originally inhabited by the Chumash and Gabrieleño tribespeople (who were forced to move to mainland missions in the early 1800s), the islands were subsequently taken over by ranchers in the 19th century and the US military in the 20th, until conservation efforts began in the 1970s.