spring island camping

Scorpions Ranch camp grounds.jpg

Camping on the California Channel Islands will afford the park visitor with a completely different experience than day visitors enjoy.

With spring approaching there is no better time to enjoy the Park. The days are getting longer and warmer. Island trips in the spring will afford visitors less crowded camping and will avoid the typically cool gray days of Southern California coastal summer

As a camper, after arriving at the park and setting up your site you might have taken a hike into the back country. Returning after 4 PM you discover that the ferries have loaded all the day visitors for their return to Ventura, and now the park is yours! With so few campers the quiet can be very soothing. A great time to just kick back and maybe enjoy some guacamole with chips or a spicy ceviche.

You will be heading out to a remote and primitive setting, and some camp site locations are more primitive than others. Careful planning is going to be needed to insure a great experience. In my opinion, the camp grounds located at Scorpions Ranch provides the best combination of beauty, solitude, and convince. This location affords a relatively short and easy hike from the ferry landing, as well as running water and toilets close by. You will have access to a number of hiking trails, tide pools, and wonderful snorkeling (yes the water is chilly year round and a wet suit will be needed). You can rent a kayak to bring out through Channel Islands Kayak Center http://cikayak.com/ or you can book a guided tour through Santa Barbara Adventure Company https://www.sbadventureco.com/. SBACo can also book your adventure at the islands as space permits as well as renting snorkel equipment.

You are going to have to pack and bring everything you might need, all your gear and all your food as there will be NO services available for you once you arrive. Some other camp locations in the park do not have fresh water available.

I believe that meal planning and your choice of foods can greatly enhance your experience. Taking into account both the facilities and regulations visitors are going to need to make choices, so what to do about the food? 

You could cook and package all your meals at home, pack them up in your cooler making sure not to exceed the 45 pound weight limit. I like simple ready to eat breakfast like fruit and yogurt for breakfast, pre made sandwiches and salads for lunch and one pot heat and serve dinners, supplementing this with lots of snacks like whole fruit, trail mix, hard cheese and crackers. Mind you, this is not a great plan if you are traveling from out of town or country. You could purchase, prepared meals from grocers (remember to get rid of all the single use packaging as per park regulations).There are freeze dried back packing meals, I have used these when back packing, some brands are pretty good, Good To-Go brand are pretty tasty and are available online from Campmo. If you are booking at camp sites that do not have water remember to pack extra for these meals.  And for the truly rustic, you could plan on peanut butter and crackers for 2 days (I am kidding).

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Oh, there is another way! We at Channel Islands Provisioners’ have been sending our clients out to the Park for over 4 years with “restaurant” quality, fully prepared meals.  We specialize in creating custom camping menus tailored to the unique environment of the Channel Islands National Park. Our understanding of the remote and wild location combined with our proven packaging provides “restaurant” quality meals with minimum effort. Your menu will be customized to your needs and preferences by our chef, packaged to make preparation and storage simple, while ensuring superb results. We deliver your meals to the docks in our coolers and make arrangements for the return of our loaned equipment - all toward your total enjoyment. We even have a very complete “camp kitchen” available to our clients to rent, so if you are vacationing you won’t need to bring your stove, fuel, and cooking equipment, in fact our kit is complete right down to the vintage table cloths and stainless steel cutlery. What about trips lasting more than couple of days? CIP can coordinate both multi day and large group adventures. We can arrange second and third deliveries working with Island Packers. This allows us to send out fresh supplies, and allows our clients to send back the trash and waste in our coolers, keeping the Park clean and the camp ground tidy.

For more information about the CIP Island camping experience, visit: cip.bz/camping/

or contact us at cipinfo@cip.bz and let us pack you up a tasty camping adventure!

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neal rosenthal