Backcountry Camping: Santa Cruz Island
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The National Park Service opened this backcountry site in recognition of its rare wilderness values. As you explore these wild areas, please take the responsibility to help us protect and preserve these delicate natural resources for future generations. The following information will help you enjoy your visit while leaving the smallest impact on the island.
WARNING: While backcountry camping is an incredible experience, it is not for the inexperienced backpacker. Due to difficult weather, rugged terrain, and off-trail hiking, backcountry camping is an arduous endeavor and should be undertaken only by experienced, well-conditioned backpackers.
Visitors are encouraged to pack as light as possible (backpacking style) as they will need to carry all of their gear, food, and water to the campsite.
Water is not available. However, depending on rainfall for the year, stream water might be available near Prisoners Harbor at the mouth of Cañada del Puerto and in Cañada del Agua and Cañada del Muro. See the map in the PDF file for canyon locations. All water must be treated with iodine, a filter, or by boiling before any use.
No fires (including charcoal) are permitted. Only enclosed camp stoves are allowed. Campers must pack out their own trash; trash containers are not provided.
Due to scavenging animals (including birds), campers are required to store all food and trash in animal- and bird-proof containers. National Park Service food storage boxes are provided at campsites, but coolers, plastic Rubber Maid-type boxes, backpacking-style bear cannisters or other types of containers with sealing lids may be used as well.
Since the mice do carry hantavirus, some basic precautions should be taken: do not feed any wild animals; keep food and drink in rodent-proof containers; and prevent entry of mice into your tent by keeping it zipped up at all times. Click here for more information on hantavirus.
The longer route (5 miles), which provides views of the southside of the island, follows the Navy Road as it climbs 1200 feet over 4 miles and eventually reaches the junction with the Del Norte Road. At the signed junction, turn north (left) and descend 1 mile to the campground.
From Scorpion Anchorage, Del Norte camground is approximately 12 miles via the Navy Road.
Please see Hiking Santa Cruz Island for descriptions of other hikes on Santa Cruz Island.
For the most current weather forecast, please visit Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's Internet Weather Kiosk.
Regulations and Guidelines
Did You Know?
The world's most complete pygmy mammoth specimen was discovered on Santa Rosa Island in 1994. These miniature mammoths, only four to six feet tall, once roamed island grasslands and forests during the Pleistocene.