What is the gorgeous things in California

The Channel Islands are comprised of eight islands (Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Nicolas, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, and Santa Catalina) off the coast of Southern California. You’ve probably heard of Catalina Island, but most people have never heard of the other seven islands.

Five of these islands are part of the Channel Islands National Park and each of these islands has at least one designated campground.  We were first introduced to this set of islands during a day trip to Anacapa Island from Oxnard, where we spent the afternoon hiking around and got lucky with an unforgettable Orca and Gray whale encounter on our ferry ride back to the mainland.

We experienced a second day trip to the islands  this time to Santa Cruz Islandduring a trip to Santa Barbara a few months ago. This day trip is what sparked our interest to finally pull the trigger on booking a campsite here in July.

Booking a camping trip to the islands is easy enough, but preparing for the trip requires a little more planning — especially for those who don’t have the right camping gear. Due to the lack of information online, we’ve decided to put together this helpful travel guide for those considering an overnight camping trip to any of the five islands that are part of the Channel Islands National Park.

This post will focus mainly on the Scorpion Ranch campground on Santa Cruz Island because that’s where we stayed, but these tips will be helpful for planning a trip to any of the campgrounds or islands in the park.


According to the National Park’s website, you must book your ferry ticket before you reserve a campsite at any of the campgrounds. The ferries fill up quicker than the campsites because of day trippers, so be sure to check Island Packer’s availability first.

The ferry to Santa Cruz leaves from Ventura Harbor. If you are traveling from out of town and want to take a morning ferry trip, I highly recommend booking a hotel near the harbor the night before. We stayed at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Ventura, CA — about a five minute drive from the harbor. They provide breakfast in the morning and we were able to fill up our cooler with fresh ice from their ice machine, which made things extremely easy for our early morning departure.

You need to check in at the harbor one hour before your ferry departs in order for them to load the camping gear. The ferry trip to Scorpion Anchorage takes about an hour and you will likely see some wildlife. Luckily, we had cans of Cayman Jack with us, which was super convenient since they don’t allow glass on the boat deck. It seemed fitting to celebrate the first leg of our journey with hand-crafted Cayman Jack margaritas on the ferry trip over.