Camp at the Water Canyon Campground in the Channel Islands NP

Rate this Adventure Los Angeles Ventura Harbor

Added by Jared Blitz

Isolation on an island with beaches, torrey pines, canyons, plant and wildlife.

You can get a wonderfully detailed description of what to expect from the Channel Islands/Santa Rosa Island and how to get there from fellow Explorer Michael Wigle's "Beach camp on Santa Rosa Island" adventure (which I highly recommend you check out for the information and the photography , so I'm just going to stick with the actual campground for this adventure.

First, if you get deathly seasick like I do, follow all the rules to reduce your chances while on the high seas.  Sit on the bottom deck near the back of the boat.  I spent 2 of the 3 hours on the boat throwing up breakfast and everything else that I could and we supposedly had a "calm" trip out.  Choosing whether or not to take Dramamine is important because of the long ride. I chose not to because I didn't want to be tired all day.  The consequences of that were brutal until we reached land.  With that said, here is what to expect when the boat docks at the pier.

After you land you will find that you have a 1.5 mile, mostly flat, hike along the coastline from the pier to the Water Canyon campground where you will be greeted by wind shelters with the corresponding campsite number you reserved at ( before scheduling your round trip boat ride from Island Packers.  There are 15 campsites that allow up to 5 people per shelter at $15/night.  The shelters are needed because it does get very windy at various times throughout the day, but they also serve as a sort of home with a picnic table.  Inside the shelter you'll find a metal food storage container and nails for you to hang your gear.  Be sure to keep your tent locked up for there are island foxes that sneak in and out of each campsite all day long looking for food.

In the campground you'll find a very clean restroom and two (2) water spigots in between the campsites.  The campground provides you with enough space between sites to have privacy but close enough to the water spigots and bathroom that you don't have to worry about interrupting other campers.  Since they placed the campground in the middle of all the trails, you'll also have easy access to all trailheads on the island.

If you're lucky you'll end up with a good group of campers who respect everyone else on the island and the fact some are there to experience the isolation it can offer.  Keep in mind there is an established quiet time between 10pm-6am, so if you're a late night person that loves to blast music or be loud in general it's not going to happen on the island.

Showers are on the grounds but they were recently shut down because of a horrific drought.

Always remember to leave no trace!

Pack List

  • 65-75 liter pack
  • Camelbak/water bottles
  • Camera
  • A lot of sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Freeze-dried meals
  • Jetboil/stove
  • Fuel for the Jetboil/stove
  • Hiking boots
  • Long sleeved clothing for sun exposure and cold/windy nights
  • Some people brought coolers full of ice and food, but remember you have to carry it 1.5 miles each way
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography, Swimming

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



1.5 Miles


Family Friendly
Handicap Accessible
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole

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Added by Jared Blitz

A teacher of health and fitness in Higher Ed, an exercise physiologist, a lover of the outdoors, and fulfilled by shooting landscape photography.

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