Channel Islands National Park

Top Right: Coreopsis blooms with Anacapa Island Lighthouse in the background, NPS photo
Top Left: Endangered Channel Island fox, NPS photo
Bottom: Male Elephant Seal, NPS photo

Channel Islands National Park is part of an island chain lying just off California's southern coast. The park protects the wealth of natural and cultural resources found on Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara Islands, and also in the adjacent ocean environments out to one nautical mile off shore. Currently the park encompasses about 250,000 acres divided nearly equally between land and water. Additionally, the U.S. Congress has declared the waters surrounding park islands out to six nautical miles as a National Marine Sanctuary.

California's Channel Islands offer an extraordinary gateway to the past, spanning more than 12,000 years of human history and hosting a diverse range of peoples and cultures. Difficulty in accessing the islands has provided some amount of protection to the large number and undisturbed condition of archeological sites on the islands.

The park's significance with respect to natural resources lies largely in the isolation of the islands. This has resulted in the evolution of numerous species, subspecies, or varieties of flora and fauna that are unique to the islands. The park is a haven for over 2,000 plants and animals, 145 of which are endemic, being found nowhere else in the world. Additionally, several species of marine birds and mammals, which once commonly bred along the southern California coast, now breed only on the Channel Islands. A long-term ecological monitoring program gathers information on the health of these resources, predicts future conditions, and identifies possible issues so that management and restoration activities can be planned accordingly.

See the links to the right to learn more about the park’s natural resources, research opportunities, and how to get involved through volunteering or an internship.