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The Channel Islands were originally discovered in 1542 by the explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. In 1938 the Santa Barbara and Anacapa islands were designated a national monumentSan MiguelSanta Rosaand Santa Cruz islands were combined with the monument in 1980 to form modern-day Channel Islands National Park.

Channel Islands National Park consists of five of the eight Channel Islands off the coast of the U.S. state of California, in the Pacific Ocean. Although the islands are close to the shore of densely populated Southern California, their isolation has left them relatively undeveloped.

Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of significant natural and cultural resources. It was designated a U.S. National Monument on April 26, 1938, and a National Biosphere Reserve in 1976. It was promoted to a National Park on March 5, 1980. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary encompasses the waters six nautical miles around Channel Islands National Park.


Santa Catalina Island is a island off the coast of California in the Gulf of Santa Catalina. The island is 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its greatest width. The highest point on the island is 2,097 feet Mt. Orizaba. Santa Catalina is part of the Channel Islands of California archipelago and lies within Los Angeles County.

Catalina was originally settled by Native Americans who called the island Pimugna or Pimu. The first Europeans to arrive on Catalina claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Over the years, territorial claims to the island transferred to Mexico and then to the United States. During this time, the island was sporadically used for smuggling, otter hunting, and gold-digging, before successfully being developed into a tourist destination by chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. beginning in the 1920s. Since the 1970s, most of the island has been administered by the Catalina Island Conservancy.



According to legend, Santa Cruz Island was named for a priest’s staff accidentally left on the island during the Portola expedition of 1769. A Chumash Indian found the cross-tipped stave and returned it to the priest. The Spaniards were so impressed that they called this island of friendly people “La Isla de Santa Cruz,” the Island of the Sacred Cross.

It is the largest of the eight islands in the Channel Islands of California and also the largest island in California, located off the coast of California. The coastline has steep cliffs, gigantic sea cavescoves, and sandy beaches. The highest peak is Devils Peak, at 2450+ feet. 

A central valley splits the island along the Santa Cruz Island Fault, with volcanic rock on the north and older sedimentary rock on the south. This volcanic rock was heavily fractured during the uplift phase that formed the island and over a hundred large sea caves have been carved into the resulting faults. One of these, Painted Cave, is among the world’s largest.

Santa Cruz Island has many species found nowhere else on earth, including the Santa Cruz Island Horse, the Island Scrub Jay and the Santa Cruz Island Fox, a subspecies of the Island Fox.