Channel Islands National Park: Santa Cruz Island

Our next visit along the California coast was to the Channel Islands.  We visited the visitor center in Ventura when we first looked for a place to move to in California, and we didn't have time to see the Channel Islands.  This trip provided us with the time to visit them.  There are eight channel islands, five of which are in the National Park, so named because they are in the Santa Barbara Channel.

We booked a trip to Santa Cruz island, the most visited island.  The trip to the island was rough, with the catamaran boat being tossed up and down.  We selected seats near the front of the boat, not a good thing in a rough crossing on a catamaran.  We did OK, especially with the Dramamine Jennifer took.  And we learned that you want to sit toward the back of the boat if you want a smoother ride.  So we did for the trip back and for the next day when we got in the last row.  Actually, the trip back and the trips the next day were much calmer than the first trip out.

When we first got our reservations, we were told that the dock had sustained some storm damage and we would be ferried to shore and would get "a little wet" getting to the beach.  Fortunately, the Park Service repaired the dock so we were able to land there and just had to climb a few steps up a ladder to the dock.

The island was a sheep ranch and the environment was badly distorted.  The National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy worked to restore the environment to what it was before the ranch.  They removed the sheep and pigs and saved the Island Fox who was headed for extinction.  The fox are not very timid especially if they think they might get some food from visitors.  They are smaller than other foxes that we have seen are, about the size of a large cat.

We hiked the Cavern Point loop, nemed because you can go to Cavern Point and view the coast from a high vantage point.  Since we had limited time, we had to choose hikes that we could take and get back in time to catch the boat back to the mainland.  If you miss the boat, they tell us you get to spend a night on the island.  At least there is a campground and a park office there.

After going to Cavern Point, we hiked up part of Smugglers Road which was part of the ranch and goes to Smugglers Cove, the other place to disambark from the boat.  Then we settled near the visitor center to wait for the return trip.

As I said, the return trip was quite smooth compared to the trip out, which is backward from the usual experience as the wind usually picks up in the afternoon and is much calmer in the morning.