Channel Islands National Park | Fall 2016

Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon are probably the top tier in terms of recognizable National Park names. Far down the list (based on my own experience) is Channel Islands National Park. It is quite a unique unit in the NPS, protected as a Park primarily for the ocean environment surrounding the islands. The best way to explore that environment? Ocean Kayaking! The bad news is that you have to charter a boat out to the Park, and a lot of the activities require guides or tours, but I've never really done anything like kayaking through the sea caves on the islands. It is spectacular and a little scary. As you go into the caves, sometimes huge swells sweep through and lift you to where you literally have to lean back to completely horizontal and you're still pressed against the ceiling. There's no chance the caves aren't full of pirate treasure...just look at them! And you can even snack on the kelp as you go (IRL salty)!

Also, if you visit Channel Islands you will quickly meet the island fox (Urocyon littoralis) which is native to six of the eight Channel Islands. There are six subspecies of the fox, each unique to the island it lives on (I visited Santa Cruz, so our friend pictured above, who we called Raggedy Andy because he looked like he was injured and hungry, is of the subspecies Santacruzae). They are really cute but they also have an unnerving habit of sneaking up on you in the dark and just staring at you. And they will get into anything containing food if you look away for 5 seconds (PSA: please don’t feed the animals).

Thanks to my friends Chelsea and Katy for both suggesting and planning this mini excursion. Our schedules and travel lined up perfectly, and we even snuck in a visit to the Patagonia HQ in Ventura and lunch at In-N-Out!

Channel Islands National Park became the 30th National Park on March 5, 1980, and is just off the coast of Ventura, CA.

Pictures by Karl Magnuson, Katy Flinn, Chelsea Brown
Canon 6D, 
GoPro Hero 3+
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L