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 100,994 ha of which 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. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles around Channel Islands National Park.
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.
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 which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. The 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 on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years.
The park is open year-round.
There are no entrance fees to visit the park. However, a fee is charged for camping on the islands. The fee includes both the National Park Service fee that supports the operation of the campgrounds and a reservation fee by the company that manages the reservation system for the National Parks.
Island Packers is the official park concessionaire and provides boat access to all islands. In addition, Island Packers offers whale watching trips while Truth Aquatics also offers scuba diving trips.
Channel Islands Aviation is the park's official air transportation concessionaire and provides air transportation to Santa Rosa Island.
Advanced planning is highly recommended. There is no transportation available on the islands. All areas must be accessed on foot or by private boat or kayak.
There is no food service allowed on the islands. Guest must pack in all their food. Some islands have drinking water, but it is a good idea to bring water as well.
Camping reservations for National Park Service campgrounds on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, East Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands are available through Biospherics Inc. at (800) 365-2267. Campsites are generally located close to one another and if the campground is filled to capacity conditions may be crowded. No trash service is provided and all campers must pack out their own trash. Be prepared to carry your camping gear from the landing areas to the campgrounds.
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