Exploring Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands National Park

By: 
Steven Gadecki

For my birthday last year, my wife and son surprised me with a trip to Channel Islands National Park. Visiting the islands has been on my wish list since I moved to California 13 years ago, so needless to say, I was super excited when I got the awesome present. My wife chose Santa Cruz Island as our destination and it was a perfect choice since it’s only an hour-long boat ride from Ventura Harbor.

Once we arrived on the island, we attended the mandatory personal safety orientation and then headed out to Potato Harbor via Cavern Point for our day trip. In no time at all, we started to gain elevation and had a great view looking out at Scorpion Canyon. I was amazed to see how green everything was; especially considering that this was a desert island for most of the year.

The view looking back on Scorpion Anchorage was just as scenic.

On some parts of the trail you had to remind yourself that you were still on an island, as the view became nothing but fields and hills. My son, Hunter, had a great time exploring the trails with my wife and running through the high grass when he could. The island’s geological diversity was really dynamic and the trail constantly offered up signature views. Of course, this only sparked my interest in returning to explore more of the island in the future.

We made good time to Potato Harbor and once the fog burned off, everything was so picturesque and clear that it felt like we were in another country.

The six-mile trail (round-trip) was just enough time for our day trip and it even allowed us a chance to explore the beach while we waited for the boat to return. Hunter had so much fun playing in the water and looking at the wide variety of rocks – I wish we could have spent another day there. What an amazing national park to explore!

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About me:  I’ve recently been invited to join The Discovery Project for L.L.Bean. Through the project, I’ll have the opportunity to test and proof gear for them over the next year. When I accepted the invitation, I thought, “A year from now, what will I wish I had done with this opportunity?” It’s rare to be given such a chance in life and I wanted to experience this moment to the fullest. So I sat down and wrote a “Discover” list of where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to see and experience, especially through my son’s eyes. I created a “Discover” sign and have been taking it everywhere I go, writing in my destinations along the way, and taking a picture with it at each location.

Inspired by L.L.Bean's 2012 Million Moment Mission campaign (the National Park Foundation was a direct benefactor of that campaign), with every goal and moment that I accomplish on my "Discover" list, I make a donation to the National Park Foundation on behalf of the people that have positively affected my life.

You can follow my adventures on Twitter @Gadecki and on my blog: A Man and His Backpack