Channel Islands National Park: Planning

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Our friend Patrick’s year in Los Angeles on a Getty Fellowship was the ideal opportunity to visit Channel Islands National Park, particularly since the ferry dock was less than an hour from his apartment and (even more importantly) he was keen to join us for a day trip. Our voyage across the Santa Barbara Channel would be the conclusion of a larger eleven-day trip visiting Patrick, Disneyland, and Yosemite National Park.

Logistically, we knew that we wanted to avoid either Disneyland or Yosemite on weekends, and going over to one of the Channel Islands on a Saturday or Sunday worked best for Patrick. As planning for the larger trip solidified, the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, our final full day in California, became the best option.

The only remaining question was which of the Islands we would visit.

Two of the five that comprise the National Park were suitable for day trips: Anacapa and Santa Cruz. As we considered our choice, we leaned toward Anacapa because with its sheer cliffs, lighthouse, and topography, it is arguably more dramatic. In looking to book the passage with Island Packers, the Park’s ferry concessionaire, however, the schedule for Sunday, May 29 to and from Anacapa was not ideal. We could have done it as either a half-day morning or afternoon or as a long full day. The problem was that the half days felt too short while the full day felt too long for such a small island with only two miles of trails.

We turned our attention to Santa Cruz Island, with more trails, a beach, an old ranch that is now a visitor center, and more wildlife (endemic island foxes and jays and wildflowers). Perfect! We booked our ferry passage, an 8am departure from Ventura to Scorpion on the eastern end of Santa Cruz Island and a 4pm return. We’d spend our time on the Island hiking, taking in the views, having a picnic, and looking for tiny endemic foxes.

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