Camping is available year round on all five islands in Channel Islands National Park in National Park Service-managed campgrounds. There is currently one established campground on each island: above the Landing Cove on Santa Barbara, on the east islet of Anacapa, at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz, at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel. No camping is allowed on The Nature Conservancy's western 76 percent of Santa Cruz Island. Limited backcountry camping is available on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa Islands. Please refer to the Backcountry Camping for more information.
Reservations can be made no more than five months in advance. Information required for the reservations includes: camping dates, transportation information, and number of campers. Reservations can be made by calling (877) 444-6777 or through Recreation.gov. A confirmation notice will be mailed to campers. This notice needs to be presented to the island ranger upon arrival.
Camping conditions are primitive, and users must camp within designated areas. All campgrounds are equipped with picnic tables and pit toilets. Water is not available at campgrounds and must be brought with you except at the Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz Island campgrounds. No trash containers are provided; campers must pack out their own trash.
Outer island campgrounds (San Miguel and Santa Rosa) have wind breaks for each campsite. Campsites are generally located close to one another.
No fires are permitted. Use only enclosed, gas camp stoves.
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.
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 Rubbermaid-type boxes or other types of containers with sealing lids may be used as well.
Fog can occur on the islands during any season producing cool, damp conditions.
All of the campgrounds, except eastern Santa Cruz, are located away from trees and shade. Overexposure to the wind and sun can be a serious problem.
Visitors are advised to bring supplies for an extra day in case boats are unable to pick up campers due to sea conditions.
For the most current weather forecast, please visit Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary's Internet Weather Kiosk.
Suggested Camping Gear
Packing your gear in backpacks, duffle bags, and containers with handles makes transportation easier. The boat concessionaire requires that items weigh no more than 45 pounds each.
On some islands, visitors may get wet during loading and off-loading, so waterproof your gear. An extra pair of shoes packed in waterproof material is recommended.
Campers should plan to layer clothing, as weather conditions tend to change from cool and damp in the mornings to bright, warm, and windy during the afternoons. Clothing that protects against wind is advisable year-round. Hiking boots are recommended for most island trails.
Additional "needed" gear includes:
"Suggested" gear includes:
The following items may not be brought to the park:
Did You Know?
The only reptile found on Santa Barbara Island is the endemic and threatened island night lizard. These lizards can live up to 20 years or more, but once established in a territory generally remain within a 3-meter radius their entire life.