The Mysteries of Santa Rosa Island

Pygmy mammoth … island fox … a birders paradise … an array of marine life– an area off the beaten path has become slightly more accessible.
Imagine flying onto the remote island in a twin-engine plane. Visiting any of the Channel Islands is an adventure in itself, but just getting to Santa Rosa can be a challenge.

There are really only two ways to access the island – either by plane or by boat. Its temperamental climate and animal life only add to the mysteries to be found on Santa Rosa.

Additionally, there are no overnight accommodations – no Motel 6 – no Holiday Inn – no showers – no fast food. Visitors and campers are left to fend for themselves with sleeping bags and tents.

As recent as thousands years ago, the island was once the home of pygmy mammoth. As recently as the mid-90s, an entire pygmy mammoth skeleton was discovered on the island.

Santa Rosa is the second largest of the eight Channel Islands – right behind Santa Cruz and ahead of Catalina. The only inhabitants of the island are National Park Service personnel and a few residents from what used to be the Vail and Vickers Cattle Company, which used to graze cattle on the islands grass slopes.

In an effort to make the island more accessible, the National Park Service has recently approved for Horizons West Adventures to offer guided camping excursions to Santa Rosa Island. Owner and guide Len Daniello considers the trip to be ideal for people who enjoy camping. These three-day guided camping trips provide all the camping gear.

On occasion, visitors might receive a guided 4-wheel drive excursion by a national park ranger … or, there is always the possibility of a whale sighting on the flight over.

However, one of the most unique things about Santa Rosa Island is the lack of footprints on the beaches ….-

by Brian Barsuglia

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