Channel Islands National Park Access remains open for private boaters

While ferryboat access to the islands is barred at this point due to Covid-19, private boaters can still access the islands but some areas remain off limits for other reasons.

VENTURA—Although the pandemic has made access to the five islands in Channel Islands National Park—Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands—difficult for the public, private boaters still have good accessibility to most of the anchorages. Here’s a look at what’s open and what remains off limits.

Due to the local stay at home order, Island Packers Company, the concessionaire for the Channel Islands National Park service, is unable to provide ferry service to the islands until restrictions are lifted, possibly by February 3, 2021. Private boaters can still anchor and go ashore to visit most of the trails on the islands.

Construction of a new pier at Scorpion Landing on Santa Cruz Island is still ongoing, making it unsafe for visitors to go ashore. Private boaters can still anchor in the adjacent Little Scorpion, but Scorpion Landing remains closed for public safety.

Scorpion pier

Scorpion Anchorage is the most visited destination in the park, with about 65,000 people coming ashore each year to enjoy recreational activities such as hiking, picnicking, camping, kayaking, swimming, and diving.

According to Lauren Boross, spokesperson for the National Park, boaters may anchor and go ashore at Smugglers Cover, but cannot hike the popular Smugglers Trail to Scorpion Valley. Smugglers Trail is closed from Smugglers Cove to the overlook above Scorpion Cove due to the fire that occurred last fall. The 1,400-acre burn area is in the process of revegetation.

Another popular destination for boaters, Anacapa Island Landing Cove, is once again accessible to boaters. Access to Anacapa Island through parts of the summer of 2020 was closed due to crane construction. The work has been completed and boaters are able to access the island by using the landing dock ladder to embark on the island. No boats are able to tie up at the dock. However, anchoring just offshore allows for many recreational activities like hiking, kayaking and swimming, and diving.

Visitors to the islands will soon be blessed with lush sightings as wild-flower season approaches. With the help of the rainstorm from a few weeks ago, the glorious yellow blooms from the tree sunflowers–the giant Coreopsis have begun, along with other island plants. These large blooms can often be seen from offshore.

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