Santa Rosa Island California

Santa Rosa Island California is a destination that any and all travelers are encouraged to keep in mind, even if they’ve been there before. The second largest island in California, this 53,000-acre paradise boasts pristine beaches that will make you want to leave the real world behind forever. Basking in views of its cliffs and interior mountains only serves to increase the overall allure, and the recreational enthusiast can find many ways to stay busy. Of course, nothing is wrong with just kicking back and taking it all in.


Santa Rosa Island is part of California’s Channel Islands National Park and can be found off the state’s southern coast. The island’s early history sees it being inhabited by Chumash Native Americans, and archaeological evidence suggests that humans have had a presence on the island for more than 13,000 years. The Channel Islands in general are where North America’s oldest dated human remains have been found. In more recent history, Santa Rosa Island California went through various uses. It was a Mexican land grant for some time before becoming a cattle ranching and private hunting reserve. During the Cold War-era, the United States Air Force set up a radar base there, and in the 1970s, the Mobil Oil Corporation explored it for possible gains. Thankfully, its inclusion in Channel Islands National Park in 1986 means that it is now a protected landmass and that it can be enjoyed by all.


Camping is the way to go if you want to stay overnight on Santa Rosa Island. In addition to securing one of the 15 primitive sites that are found at the Water Canyon campground, overnighters have the option of securing even more primitive backcountry sites. This second option is limited to certain beaches between mid-August and the end of December. Either way, Santa Rosa Island campers should be prepared for possible weather changes. The winds can kick up to thirty knots, for example, in which case a strong, low-profile tent is recommended, as are stakes and securing lines. Advanced camping reservations are required for all of the campgrounds in the Channel Islands, and campers must also secure transportation for an overnight trip to the park before they actually arrive. No island transportation is provided, so campers must carry all their gear to the site.

Hiking & Kayaking

Hiking & Kayaking
Hiking & Kayaking  Image: mikebaird (flickr)

Hiking and kayaking figure among the most popular recreational pursuits on Santa Rosa Island. Hikers can choose from well-maintained tracks, relatively flat routes, and more rugged trails that can be completely unmaintained and very challenging. Park visitor centers offer trail maps, guides, and other info that come in handy for those who wish to hike on Santa Rosa Island and the other Channel Islands. For kayakers, the pristine marine environment that Channel Islands National Park has to offer is divine. Since sea kayaking in general can be challenging and dangerous, however, novices are not encouraged to go it alone in the Channel Islands. Santa Rosa Island and San Miguel Island tend to have the most extreme weather and sea conditions. Park-authorized guides and outfitters are available.

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