Catalina Island Buffalo

Catalina Island Buffalo
Catalina Island Buffalo

The presence of Catalina Island buffalo is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of this destination off the coast of Southern California. You may at first wonder how it is possible how there came to be a buffalo herd on Catalina Island, and the back story is as interesting as the county that the island belongs to: Los Angeles.

The buffalo (or American bison) were originally brought to Catalina Island in 1924 for the filming of a movie titled The Vanishing American by Zane Grey. It is not known exactly how many buffalo were introduced to the island for the movie, but what is known is that the scenes with the buffalo did not make the final cut, and due to budget constrictions, were left on the island as opposed to paying to bring them back to the mainland. The pursuant decades saw the ranks of buffalo rise to at least 600 and become an ecological threat to the island and certainly its developing way of life as a resort destination.

The burgeoning buffalo herd on Catalina Island had to be controlled and is now looked after by the Catalina Island Conservancy. It is not exactly clear how the population was maintained in past decades, but now the herd of 150 to 200 buffalo is controlled using humane contraceptive measures. Now that the Catalina Island buffalo have been completely integrated into the island, so to have they become integrated into the cultural identity of Catalina Island. You can now take a Catalina Island buffalo tour and explore the amazing interior and coastline of the island. These expeditions are some of the most popular tours for guests of the island, and the buffalo herd on Catalina Island is just some of the wildlife you will see.

Many tours also afford the ability to see native plant nurseries, bald eagle sanctuaries, and you may even spot the elusive island fox. This is one of the activities that are perfect for adults and children alike. Many hotels on the island offer vacation packages that include excursions and tours on the island, so check with your hotel as you are making plans to find out about any available deals or incentives.

If you are planning to take a Catalina Island buffalo tour, it is important to know that most of them depart from Two Harbors. If you are making a day or weekend trip from the mainland, you can take a ferry a number of locations including San Pedro and Marina del Rey. The total journey on a ferry or cruise takes about 90 minutes (it only takes about an hour to get to Avalon). You are permitted to bring cameras and camcorders and you can normally choose between two-hour tours or four-hour tours. The four-hour tours definitely allow you to see deeper into the interior and spend more time at points of interest, but the shorter tour is less expensive and affords plenty of opportunities to get photos or take footage of the buffalo and the beautiful, rugged island landscape. The Catalina Island buffalo are one of the things that make this island so unique and interesting.

Compare Travel Sites and Save!

Buffalo on Catalina Island


The presence of Catalina Island buffalo is one of the most distinguishing cha...

California Forum

More Forum Posts »