The mainland visitor center is fully accessible. Due to their isolation and transportation requirements, the islands are not readily accessible for individuals in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility. Efforts are underway to provide some wheelchair accessible areas on Santa Rosa Island via air transportation. Please call the park for information.
Basic Visitation Procedures
Inform yourself about the park, its features, and safety concerns before visiting, by contacting the park for brochures, and the boat and air concessions for schedules. See the Address Page.
Because of the time involved in traveling from the mainland to the islands, a full day is recommended to visit the park. Anacapa is a great island for your first visit; it is the closest island to the mainland (1.5 hour boat ride) and consists of dramatic, steep cliffs, with hundreds of sea birds and marine mammals. Snorkeling, kayaking, and diving are all excellent in the rich kelp beds around Anacapa.
For a multi-day visit, Santa Rosa is a good destination. You can go to various parts of the island to explore canyons and beaches.
For a feel of a wilderness experience, San Miguel, the furthest out from the mainland, may be your choice. The island often is fog-covered or very windy. Access to many areas on the island is limited due to fragility of the terrestrial and marine resources.
Biking is not allowed in the park.
Boating & Kayaking
Sea Kayaking Channel Islands National Park is a unique and rewarding way to experience this pristine marine environment. You will find solitude and splendor while paddling along the routes used by the first visitors to the islands. Go to the Boating Guide to find more info on boating and Kayaking Guide for sea kayaking info.
Reservations are required to camp at National Park Service campgrounds on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands. Camping on the beaches on Santa Rosa Island is available for experienced kayakers and boaters on a seasonal basis.
All campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables and pit toilets. Except at the Santa Rosa Island campground, water is not available at campgrounds and must be brought with you. No fires are permitted except in designated areas on eastern Santa Cruz Island (wood provided).
For detailed information see the Camping Page.
Fees & Permits
There are no entrance fees to visit the park, and no permit fees for camping in National Park Service-operated campgrounds. A free permit is required to camp at National Park Service campgrounds on San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara Islands. Camping on the beaches on Santa Rosa Island is available for experienced kayakers and boaters on a seasonal basis.
A free permit is required of private boaters to hike beyond the beach areas on San Miguel and Santa Rosa Islands. For all permits, call: 805-658-5711. For private boaters' permission to land on Santa Cruz Island, call The Nature Conservancy at: 805-964-7839.
Food and Supplies
The islands have no stores or restaurants. You must bring all your own food and water.
There is hiking on all of the islands. See the Hiking Page.
The islands have no overnight accommodations. See the Lodging Page, or the Camping Page.
Pets are not allowed on the islands.
There are picnic areas on the islands.
Programs and Activities
The Mainland Visitor Center features a museum, living tidepool exhibit, three-dimensional models of all the park islands, interactive touch-screen exhibit, a tower with telescopes for viewing the islands, picnic area overlooking the Ventura Harbor, a bookstore, and an outdoor native plant garden. Visitors will enjoy the 25 minute park movie, "A Treasure in the Sea", throughout the day in the auditorium. Every Saturday and Sunday park rangers present free interpretive programs on the natural and cultural resources of the park. Throughout the week, other programs and school visits may be scheduled by calling the visitor center. All facilities are fully accessible.
Every Saturday and Sunday several scheduled programs are offered. Programs include Tidepool Talk at 11:00 am and Recreating at Channel Islands National Park at 2:00 pm. At 3:00 pm, rangers offer programs that look in depth at a variety of topics about the park. Programs are free to the public.
The Mainland Visitor Center is located at the very end of Spinnaker Drive in the Ventura Harbor. Provides the visitor with Interpretive programs, a movie about the park, tidepool display, native plant garden, bookstore and island exhibits. The facility is fully accessible and offers a picnic area overlooking the Ventura Harbor. There are also visitor centers on the islands of Anacapa and Santa Barbara.
Mainland visitor center hours are:
Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8:00 to 5:00 weekdays, 8:00 to 5:30 weekends.
Labor Day through Memorial Day, 8:30 to 4:30 weekdays, 8:00 to 5:00 weekends.
The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The introduction of alien plant and animal species, which do not naturally occur in the park, is the biggest human impact on the islands. Alien species often negatively impact the native plants or animals, sometimes endangering their survival. Visitors should take care to not bring in seeds of plants on clothing or shoes.
Over-fishing of the marine resources is another harmful human impact. Studies are being conducted at the park to determine species that may be in jeopardy due to over-use, and the usefulness of restoration efforts. Human use of tide pools, beaches, and other areas may inadvertently disturb some endangered species, including the California brown pelican, or seals and sea lions. These animals are protected by federal law; please stay far enough away from these animals so to not disturb them.
Illegal collection of cultural artifacts is also another negative human impact. Any artifacts found should always be left where they were seen and reported to the Park Service, since disturbance can ruin the archeological record and the educational value of these finds.
Climate is mild, with little variation in temperature year round. However, be prepared for high winds, fog, and sea spray at any time. Visitors to the islands should dress in layers, with short and long pants, windbreaker, hat, sun screen, and waterproof outer clothing. Wear sturdy hiking shoes with non-slip soles.
Although most visitation occurs in the summer, migrating gray whales and spectacular wildflower displays attract visitors in the winter and spring. Autumn is an excellent time to travel to the park, as well as for diving, as the days are usually sunny, with minimal winds and clear ocean water.
See the Weather Page for current weather and other weather data.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Intertidal Plants and Animals
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
San Miguel Island
Santa Barbara Island
Santa Cruz Island
Size and Visitation Info
Copyright © 1995 - 2007 Page Makers LLC
This site is in no way associated with the United States Government, the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service