camping at Channel Islands National Park means bring all your food

Published on by neal rosenthal.


Camping on the California Channel Islands will afford the park visitor with a completely different experience than day visitors enjoy. You will be heading out to a remote and primitive setting, and some camp site locations are more primitive than others. Careful planning is going to be needed to ensure a great experience. You are going to have to pack and bring everything you might need, all your gear and all your food as there will be NO services available for you once you arrive. Some camp locations in the park do not have fresh water available.

In my opinion, the camp grounds located at Scorpions Ranch provides the best combination of beauty, solitude, and convenience. This location affords a relatively short and easy hike from the ferry landing, as well as running water and toilets close by. You will have access to a number of hiking trails, tide pools, and wonderful snorkeling (yes the water is chilly year round and a wet suit will be needed). You can rent a kayak to bring out through Channel Islands Kayak Center or you can book a guided tour through Santa Barbara Adventure Company SBACo can also rent snorkel equipment.

As a camper, after arriving at the park and setting up your site you might have taken a hike into the back country. Returning after 4 PM you discover that the ferries have loaded all the day visitors for their return to Ventura, and now the park is yours! With so few campers the quiet can be very soothing. A great time to just kick back and maybe enjoy some guacamole with chips or a spicy ceviche.


I believe that meal planning and your choice of foods can greatly enhance your experience. Taking into account both the facilities and regulations visitors are going to need to make choices, so what to do about the food? 

You could cook and package all your meals at home, pack them up in your cooler making sure not to exceed the 45 pound weight limit. I like simple ready to eat breakfasts like fruit and yogurt for breakfast, pre-made sandwiches and salads for lunch and one pot heat and serve dinners, supplementing this with lots of snacks like whole fruit, trail mix, hard cheese and crackers. Mind you, this is not a great plan if you are traveling from out of town or country. You could purchase, prepared meals from grocers (remember to get rid of all the single use packaging as per park regulations).There are also freeze dried backpacking meals, I have used these when back packing, the Good To-Go brand is pretty tasty. If you are booking at camp sites that do not have water remember to pack extra for these meals.  For the truly hardcore, you could plan on peanut butter and crackers for 2 days (I am kidding).


And, there is another way! We at Channel Islands Provisioners’ have been sending our clients out to the Park for over 4 years with “restaurant” quality, fully prepared meals.  We deliver your meals to the docks in our coolers and make arrangements for the return of our loaned equipment. We even have a very complete “camp kitchen” available to our clients to rent, so if you are vacationing you won’t need to bring your stove, fuel, and cooking equipment, in fact our kit is complete right down to the vintage table cloths and stainless steel cutlery. CIP can coordinate both multi day and large group adventures. We can arrange second and third deliveries working with Island Packers, which allows us to send out fresh supplies, and our clients to send back the used packaging, etc. in our coolers, keeping the Park clean and the camp ground tidy.

For more information about the CIP Island camping experience, visit: or contact us at and let us pack you up a tasty camping adventure!

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