Remote, raw, and utterly enchanting, Channel Islands National Park, nicknamed “the Galapagos of California,” is an undeveloped, far less traveled archipelago off the coast of Ventura. Explore this once lost world by adventuring all across the largest of its five islands—Santa Cruz.
As the largest of the Channel Islands, Santa Cruz also has bragging rights to two mountain ranges. And boy does this place pack a punch for adventure-seekers. For a grand (and grandly scenic) tour, lace up the boots and go on a 15-mile (one-way) backpacking trek that traverses the eastern side of the island. You’ll travel from Prisoners Harbor pier to Scorpion Anchorage over one or two nights. Most likely to greet you at the pier: the island fox, one of several endemic species. From there, a loping, thigh-busting 3.5-mile hike ascends grassy sea-hugging slopes and descends into two canyons. For those in no hurry, spend the night at Del Norte Camp, where four primitive sites are nestled amid oak trees. Next up, the long, vista-filled journey to Scorpion Anchorage.