Outbound Collective logo

Santa Rosa Island

,

Book this listing through our partner Recreation Gov

About Santa Rosa Island

Overview

Tucked away in a canyon to protect visitors from strong northwest winds, Water Canyon Campground offers exceptional island views, access to spectacular hiking opportunities and a nearby white sand beach.

Located 40 nautical miles from the Channel Islands National Park visitor center in Ventura, Santa Rosa is the second largest island in California at approximately 53,000 acres in size. The island landforms support a diverse array of plant and animal species including six plant species found nowhere on earth but Santa Rosa Island. The island also hosts over 100 bird and three land mammal species, including the endemic island fox.

Remains of an ancient species like the pygmy mammoth have been uncovered on Santa Rosa Island. These miniature mammoths, reaching just four to six feet tall, roamed the island's grasslands and forests during the Pleistocene Age.

The island has rich archeological resources as well. It is home to thousands of significant archeological sites of the Chumash Native Americans, who inhabited the island until 1820. Others have come to the island during more recent centuries to exploit its rich resources, sometimes making it their home. In addition to the native Chumash, European explorers, Aleut sea otter hunters, Chinese abalone fishermen, Spanish missionaries, Mexican and American ranchers, and the US military all have left their mark on the Santa Rosa landscape. Visitors can see relics of these occupations in remnants of fishing camps, water troughs and fence lines, the pier where cattle were loaded and unloaded, buildings and equipment of the historic Vail and Vickers ranch at Bechers Bay, and remains of the military installations.

Recreation

Several trails and roads traverse the island, providing visitors with spectacular hiking opportunities, including the relatively flat route to Water Canyon Beach to the rugged, mountainous path to Black Mountain.

Due to the strong, persistent wind, swimming, snorkeling, diving and kayaking are limited and recommended for the experienced visitor only. Despite the wind, Santa Rosa Island offers exceptional beach walking on white sand beaches. Access to one of the best beaches, Water Canyon Beach, is just over a mile from the pier in Bechers Bay and just down canyon from the campground. Beach access is also available near the pier.

No fishing is allowed within the marine reserves located around the island. Fishing is allowed outside of these areas.

For more information about recreational activities in the park, visit https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/index.htm.

Facilities

Primitive camping is available at Water Canyon Campground (15 sites; 5 persons per site). Picnic table, food storage box, windbreak, pit toilet and water are provided. The campground is a flat 1.5-mile hike from the pier and a 0.25-mile from the airstrip and Water Canyon Beach. Due to the boat schedule, minimum stay is generally three days.

Natural Features

Santa Rosa has a landscape of remarkable contrasts. High mountains with deeply cut canyons give way to gently rolling grass-covered hills, extensive beaches and coastal wetlands. The altitude ranges from sea level to 1,589 feet.

Nearby Attractions

Good tidepooling spots are located within Bechers Bay, including just east of the pier, the east end of Southeast Anchorage, and near East Point.

A short hike from the campground is the Santa Rosa Island Torrey pine grove. This pine is considered one of the rarest pines in the world-the last enduring members of a once widespread Pleistocene forest. Near the pier, visitors can see buildings and equipment of the historic Vail and Vickers ranch.

Access to a highly recommended beach, Water Canyon Beach, is just over a mile from the Bechers Bay pier. The sandy beach lies on the northeastern shore of the island. Bechers Bay is a destination in itself, with buildings and equipment at the historic Vail and Vickers ranch.

Santa Rosa Island Reviews

Have you stayed here? Be the first to leave a review!

Top Spots in or near United States

East Point via the Coastal Road

Santa Rosa Campground
13.76 mi / 486 ft gain

Black Mountain via Cherry Canyon Trail

Santa Barbara County, California
6.54 mi / 1329 ft gain

Lobo Canyon Trail via Santa Rosa Campground

Santa Barbara County, California
12.03 mi / 984 ft gain

Torrey Pines Trail

Santa Barbara County, California
4.71 mi / 584 ft gain

Water Canyon Campground

Santa Barbara County, California
3.28 mi / 128 ft gain

Beach Camp on Santa Rosa Island

Santa Barbara County, California
5.0
19.72 mi / 3097 ft gain

Camping and Lodging in United States

Santa Rosa Island Backcountry Beach Camping
Unnamed Road

Santa Rosa Island Backcountry Beach Camping

Anacapa Island
Ventura, California

Anacapa Island

Santa Cruz Del Norte Backcountry
Ventura, California

Santa Cruz Del Norte Backcountry

Santa Cruz Scorpion
Smugglers Road

Santa Cruz Scorpion

Paradise Campground
Santa Barbara, California

Paradise Campground

Fremont Campground
Santa Barbara, California

Fremont Campground