Channel Islands National Park is a United States national park that consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped. The park covers 249,561 acres (100,994 ha) of which 79,019 acres (31,978 ha) are owned by the federal government. The Nature Conservancy owns and manages 76% of Santa Cruz Island, the largest island in the park.
Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. It was designated a U.S. National Monument on April 26, 1938, and a National Biosphere Reserve in 1976. It was promoted to a National Park on March 5, 1980. The islands within the park extend along the Southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to San Pedro, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura.
Flora and Fauna:
More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. However only three mammals are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. Spotted Skunk and Channel Islands Fox also are endemic. The Island fence lizard is also endemic to the Channel Islands. Other animals in the park include Island Scrub Jay, harbor seal, California sea lion, island fox, spotted skunk, island night lizard, barn owl, American kestrel, horned lark and meadowlark and California brown pelican. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the World. Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years.
Channel Islands National Park offers a wide variety of recreation activities, kayaking through the Sea Caves being one of the most popular. Backpacking, camping, Day hiking, scuba diving, and spearfishing are among the activities available to visitors. The Channel Islands National Park is renowned for its large number of complex, beautiful Sea Caves. Based on ocean conditions and ferry availability, Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island is the most visited area in the park for day and camping visitors. It is recommended that inexperienced visitors use caution when visiting the national park due to changing ocean conditions in this unique ecosystem. Guide and outfitter services are available. To view companies that are park authorized outfitters with the National Park Service.