Channel Islands National Park

Overview:

Channel Islands National Park is a great place to get out your sea legs and visit one of America’s most unique national parks. The park provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities to include hiking, camping, kayaking, birdwatching, and stargazing. The national parks provide any van or RV nomad a delightful break from the congestion and clamor of urban life. 

Adventure:

Channel Islands National Park is a hidden jewel in Southern California’s backyard that very few people know or visit. This makes it an excellent opportunity for any van or RV nomad to explore the islands and get away from the mainland. The main activities on the islands are hiking, kayaking and camping.

Five islands make up the Channel Islands, with Santa Cruz being the most popular:

  1. San Miguel Island
  2. Santa Rosa Island
  3. Santa Cruz Island
  4. Anacapa Island
  5. Santa Barbara

Hiking

You will find many trails and roads traverse the islands, providing visitors with spectacular hiking opportunities. These trails and roads range from the maintained, relatively flat, signed trails of Anacapa to the unmaintained, rugged, mountainous, unsigned paths of Santa Rosa.

Kayaking – Scorpion Beach

Scorpion Beach is a world-class destination for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and kayaking. The beach has access, clear ocean waters, nearby camping, year-round Island Packers boat transportation, extensive kelp forests, and a spectacular shoreline with sea caves to explore, as you see from the pictures above.

Camping

Camping is available year-round on all five islands. Camping conditions are primitive, but all campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables and pit toilets. There is currently one established campground on each island: 

  • above the Landing Cove on Santa Barbara,
  • on the east islet of Anacapa,
  • at Scorpion Canyon on Santa Cruz,
  • at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa,
  • and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel.

No camping is allowed on The Nature Conservancy’s western 76 percent of Santa Cruz Island. Limited backcountry camping is available on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands.

Water is not available at campgrounds and must be brought with you except at the Water Canyon campground on Santa Rosa Island and the Scorpion Canyon Campground on Santa Cruz Island. No trash containers are provided; campers must pack out their own trash.

Reservations can be made by calling (877) 444-6777 or through Recreation.gov

Getting There

While the mainland visitor centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara are readily accessible by car or public transportation, the islands are only accessible by park concessionaire boats (Island Packers Cruises) and planes (Channel Islands Aviation) or private boats. Make sure you book in Advance.
 

Website: Island Packer Cruises

Channel Islands National Park Robert J Lagomarsino Visitor Center: Address: 1901 Spinnaker Dr, Ventura, CA 93001

References and Other Adventures:

Beach

Rincon Point State Beach

Rincon Point State Beach is a must-stop destination for any van lifer who’s a surfer and traveling up or down the Southern California coast. Rincon is actually a separate unit of Carpinteria State Beach located at Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties’ border. It’s a public beach right next to the private gated community of Rincon Point.

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Camping

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The park has camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, rock climbing, and horseback riding. Located in the park is the Malibu Lagoon, a small lake that allows swimming, and the M*A*S*H filming location.

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