Channel Islands at sunset
Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary is comprised of five Channel Islands along the Santa Barbara Channel and their ocean environment. From north to south, the islands are San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara. Close to the California mainland and only a short trip away from Los Angeles, the park’s five islands provide a delightful break from the hustle and bustle of urban life.
The Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species of which 150 are found nowhere else in the world, earning these islands their nickname as North America’s Galapagos. Santa Barbara Channel is home to over 30 marine mammal species including whales, dolphins, and elephant seals, as well as marine life ranging from sea stars and anemones to blue whales, the largest animals in the world.
The Channel Islands are also the site of the oldest known human remains in North America, and provide the opportunity to experience coastal southern California as it once was. Archeologists have discovered that dwarf wooly mammoths thrived on the island until the last Ice Age ended 11,000 years ago. The islands are also known for being settled by maritime Paleo Indian peoples at least 13,000 years ago. Many archeological sites on the island serve as an invaluable record of those times. Archeologists have discovered approximately 148 historic village sites, including 11 on Santa Cruz Island, eight on Santa Rosa Island, and two on San Miguel Island.