Water Canyon Campground, Santa Rosa Island

Late September’s trip to Santa Rosa Island was a great trip with some good friends. Santa Rosa Island is a part of the Channel Islands National Park and is the second largest of California’s islands. Yes, California has islands, many have heard of Catalina though while many have not really heard about the Channel Islands.

Off the coast of Ventura about 40 nautical miles you can spend an amazing weekend on a secluded island. While getting there takes a little time and effort you can read about it HERE in out getting there blog. Arriving to the island is an adventure in itself, and the transfer from the boat to the pier can require some balance and quick feet. You make your way to the top side while they move everyone’s gear up from the hold.

After everyone is staged the Ranger is there to meet everyone and go over some of the rules and most importantly make sure everyone knows what they need to do to stay safe and help preserve the island. After that we are pretty much free to make our way to the campgrounds while the Ranger went over some extra pieces of information for the people camping in the interior of the island. I definitely need to go do some interior exploring of the island but this trip we were staying at Water Canyon Campground.

Prior to this becoming a National Park it had been a working cattle ranch for many years and the ranch was very much still intact as we walked through, the cattle shoots and passed the big red barn and ranch buildings. It was a pleasant mile and a half hike along dirt road to the camp and we had great views of Santa Cruz Island and the beaches and sea. We even passed the airstrip along the way as campers strolled to Water Canyon.

Up a small hill and you can see the campground as you walk into the canyon. It was a neat little protected area with wind blocks constructed at each site looking like a little village. We headed to our spot and the area was quite clean and well kept. a\Aside from the shade structure there is a picnic table and a “fox box” for storing all of your food and scented items since these little lovelies make racoons look like armatures. There is no fires so no fire rings or need for firewood while your camp stoves are good to go. Even smoking is a no go with you having to go to the beach if you want to burn one.

Now for the amenities they did have, potable water, which is amazing! And for dishwashing they ask you to do that at the bathrooms to keep the mess down and they had a nice external deep sink on the outside of the building. Speaking of bathrooms these where probably some of the nicest, cleanest flush toilet park bathrooms I have ever been to, five stars based on that, haha.

While our campground was pretty full it didn’t feel packed and during the day there was so few people compared to the size of the island it was almost like having it to ourselves. The seclusion is awesome but there are some things to remember like cell service is spotty at best, there are not shops or places to spend your money so all great things unless you get hurt or forget something. The upside is the park staff is there to help but that help might be limited.

They were telling us the week before campers got a couple extra days on the island because of bad weather and the ferry not being able to get them. That is a real possibility so a little extra food and fuel might not be a bad idea. That and the wind can be really strong so have a plan for gear that can deal with it, also the flies… if it isn’t windy, we had a ton of little annoying flies during the day at camp, the upside being is hiking around the island the breeze usually kept them down.

The above are the only things I think you need a heads up to enjoy the trip other than that it’s a quick way to have an adventure where you can actually go outdoors in California and not have a ton of people around especially on the beaches. The Park staff was great, and the fellow campers were awesome too. I think the ferry ride acts kind of like a hurdle to get there and that shakes off a lot of the car camper crowd as well as the mile and a half hike to the campground. If you are looking for peace and quiet this is the place.



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