Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park encompasses five islands and their ocean environment. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. Many of these species have grown considerably different in size than their main land counterparts due to a lack of natural predators and prey. Examples of this are the Santa Cruz Island Fox, which is about two thirds the size of the grey fox on the mainland, and the Island Scrub Jay, which is about one third larger than the mainland scrub jay and only exists on Santa Cruz island.
There are several ways to see the park including sea kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking. We chose to backpack and camp on Santa Cruz Island. Even in February, it is lush and green and covered in wildflowers. We saw seal, bald eagle, dolphins, island fox, scrub jays, lizards, and sunfish to name a few. The stars at night were gorgeous but you have to be aware of the Island Fox, which is naturally curious and will steal anything it can carry away. We spotted a couple lurking around the campsite at night sniffing around our tents. This was our favorite park of our 3 park trip in Southern California.
The most exciting part of the trip was on our boat ride over. We encountered a pod of about 1,000 dolphins who decided to put on a show for us, jumping and playing in the wake created by the boat. It was a truly unforgettable experience.