Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park: see Santa Barbara Islands; National Parks and Monuments (table).
Channel Islands National Park is a 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. The islands within the park extend along the southern California coast from Point Conception near Santa Barbara to San Clemente Island, southwest of Los Angeles. Park headquarters and the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center are located in the city of Ventura.

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.

Over 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park. However only three mammals are endemic to the islands, one of which is the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) which is known to carry the sin nombre hantavirus. Spotted Skunk and Channel Islands Fox also are endemic. Other animals in the park include Island Scrub Jays, harbor seals, sea lions, island fox, spotted skunk, island night lizard, barn owls, American kestrels, horned larks and meadowlarks and California brown pelican. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world. Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth. Archeological and cultural resources span a period of more than 10,000 years.

The park consists of 390 mi² (1010 km²), half of which are under the ocean, and include the islands of:

Although the islands are close to the shore of densely-populated southern California, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped.

Visitation

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 Pirate's Cove on the north shore and staying in the valley beyond.

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