March 30, 2012

Channel Islands - Like Nowhere Else

Although Channel Islands National Park is located off the coast of Southern California, it does take a bit of determination to plan a visit.  Access is only by boat, which consumes an entire day, or by small plane, which is a half-day tour but flies only on the weekend this time of year. However you manage to get there, you will be rewarded with a place like nowhere else in the world.

Channel Islands National Park is comprised of five islands that are located between the mainland coast and the deep ocean.  The Channel Islands were never connected to the mainland, and this isolation allowed the plants and animals there to evolve independently, much like the Galapagos Islands of South America.  The islands contain 145 plants and animals that are not found elsewhere.  

Tim and I arrived on Santa Cruz Island yesterday on a boat operated by Island Packers, and it was a rough ride that resulted in more than one case of seasickness.  Because of the low tide, we were unable to dock at the pier and were shuttled to the island by small skiffs.  That was a fun experience!

Making Our Way to Santa Cruz by Skiff
Another Group Arriving on Shore
We joined a tour led by a very knowledgeable volunteer naturalist and learned about the natural and cultural resources on Santa Cruz.  We hiked up to Cavern Point, where we were rewarded with magnificent coastal views of the ocean and the high cliffs.

The View from Cavern Point
Sarah and Tim
High Cliffs
Scorpion Anchorage
Rocky Beach
Santa Cruz Island was formerly a sheep ranch, and several of the historic structures have been preserved.  Ranching, however, had a detrimental impact on the native vegetation, and restoration efforts have been underway since the park was established in 1980.

Scorpion Ranch House
Farm Equipment
A Reconstructed Windmill in the Distance
Blacksmith Shop
Although we were never able to spot an island fox, we enjoyed the expansive views, the green hills and the pretty flowers.  But most of all we relished the tranquility that lures people back again and again.  Channel Islands National Park is a very special place indeed.

Green Hills
Island Morning Glories
Island Morning Glory

Everyone Back on the Boat


  1. Oh a boat ride! What fun. :-) This looks like a very special place. I will have to put this on my bucket list. So glad it is part of the park system! LV

    1. LV, We did have fun on the boat ride, although it was soooo cold on the water! Yes, this is a special place and well worth visiting. Sarah