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Santa Cruz Island is the largest and most diverse of the eight Channel Islands and has a long and varied history that is closely linked to its landscape. Its coastal scrub vegetation, vast grasslands, oak woodlands, and rich coastline sustained the sea-going Chumash people for about 9,000 years. During the nineteenth century, hunters and fishermen exploited the marine life, and mariners found shelter in its coves. Later the island was home to immigrant ranchers, and, in later years, the military took advantage of the island’s strategic location. With such a rich and varied history, visitors are sure to find plenty to explore in addition to the island's stunning natural beauty.
To learn more about Santa Cruz Island, visit the park's website.
The island has a single visitor center located in the historic Scorpion Ranch house. Several trails and roads traverse eastern Santa Cruz Island, providing visitors with spectacular running opportunities. These trails and roads range from the maintained, relatively flat trails of Scorpion Valley to the unmaintained, rugged, mountainous paths of the Montañon area. Runners must stay on designated trails, and no off-trail travel is permitted.
While visitors may explore the national park property on Santa Cruz Island, no running is allowed beyond the national park boundary onto the Nature Conservancy property. The boundary is the property line (marked by a fence line) between Prisoners Harbor and Valley Anchorage.
Santa Cruz Island is only accessible via boat. Island Packers offers trips year round. Travel time is one-hour, landing at either Scorpion Anchorage or Prisoners Harbor. Landing is via a pier at both locations. For more information on transportation options, click here.
Camping & Lodging
Primitive camping is available at the Scorpion Ranch Campground. There are 31 sites available for $15 per night per site, and reservations are required. Water, picnic tables, food storage boxes, and pit toilets are provided.
Food & Drink
There are no goods, services, or accommodations available on the island. Visitors must bring all their own food and supplies. Water is available at Scorpion Anchorage but not at Prisoners Harbor.
After the Run: Local Favorites
Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine
Small moquecas or moquequinhas of mussels or cubed shark are easily shared among a crowd. Equally shareable is frito misto, expertly fried and precisely arranged crisp fish.
Fresco II on The Marina
Everything is amazing! The bread they serve when you sit down is to die for.. Beware: the garlic dip is out of this world, but your significant other might not want to kiss you for a while..
The mixed sand and cobblestone Scorpion Beach is a world-class destination for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. With easy beach access, clear ocean waters, nearby camping, amazing kelp forests, and a spectacular shoreline with sea caves to explore, this is a great option for those looking to enjoy the area. No fishing is allowed within the marine reserves located around the island. Fishing is allowed outside of these areas with a valid California state fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp.
California Camping Basics:
Jun 25 - Santa Barbara REI
Whether you are new to California or are new to camping, this class is sure to inform and inspire! We will cover the basics: California essentials, gear and equipment, local activities, great regional resources and areas to camp! Details