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.
More than 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park.
Annual visitation to the park's mainland visitor center is 300,000. Visitation to the islands and waters is low, with about 30,000 visitors traveling to the islands, and another 60,000 who go only into park waters. 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. Camping is a popular activity on Santa Cruz Island, with visitors arriving at Prisoners harbor on the north shore and staying in the valley beyond. A new island visitor center opened at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island on April 6, 2009.