It’s not necessarily the variety of wildlife that makes this park special. Instead, its remote location has allowed certain subspecies of terrestrial animals to emerge—23 to be exact! For example, island fox and deer mouse are both endemic creatures found only on the Channel Islands
When it comes to marine life, prepare to be amazed. You’ll often find dolphins, porpoises, gray whales, orcas and even blue whales. Winter is the best time to see gray whales; humpbacks, blue whales, orcas and fin whales are occasionally seen in the summer when they come to the channel to feed.
One of the biggest wildlife draws has to be the islands’ seals and sea lions. You’ll see these marine mammals basking on rocks throughout the area. Hardcore adventurers should consider hiking to Point Bennett. Getting there requires a 15-mile, ranger-led hike on San Miguel Island—the most remote of the five islands. Considering there are no services on the island, you must come prepared! That said, those who make the trek are rewarded with views of thousands of northern elephant seals, California sea lions, northern fur seals and harbor seals.
The islands are only accessible by park concessionaire boats (Island Packers), planes (Channel Islands Aviation) or private boats. Island Packers offer a great variety of cruise options, including a 3-hour, non-landing excursion; whale-watching trips; as well as ferry service to and from the island for campers and day-trippers.