Tag archives: Channel Islands National Park

Alluvial Alternatives
By Chuck Graham   |   March 5, 2024

The Channel Islands National Park has more sea caves documented than anywhere else in the world, with close to 300 grottos. However, there isn’t a toothy grotto quite like the geological feature that’s wave-battered into the sheer, 200-foot-tall cliffs of West Anacapa Island. As I kayaked inside the dark, dank sea cave at dawn, I […]

Island Canyon Chronicles
By Chuck Graham   |   August 29, 2023

The mud was something to behold. However, the narrow, serpentine-like side canyons of Scorpion Canyon were green, lush, and oozing with moisture. The many rushing waterfalls were perpetually soothing as water flowed uninhibited to the main canyon carrying that aquatic melody to the cobbled shoreline at Scorpion Anchorage. It felt like I was experiencing my […]

Large Grant Funds Study of Reptile Dwarfism
By Scott Craig   |   July 4, 2023

Westmont biologist Amanda Sparkman (’03) and her research collaborators have won a two-million-dollar, four-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue investigating the evolution of dwarfism in Channel Islands National Park reptiles.  The study focuses on five species, including the gopher snake, western yellow-bellied racer, southern alligator lizard, western fence lizard, and side-blotched […]

Down for the Count
By Chuck Graham   |   February 21, 2023

I was on an early morning beach run in Carpinteria, pink and orange hues melding across the eastern horizon. While weaving my way in soft sand past wintering killdeer and western snowy plovers, those hardy shorebirds thoroughly enjoyed the wrack lines of tattered giant bladder kelp left behind by the previous high tide. Later that […]

The Sleeping One
By Chuck Graham   |   December 20, 2022

Descending San Miguel Hill at a feverish pace, I’d just left a freshly soddened Green Mountain to the west in my rearview mirror. San Miguel Island always delivering a diverse mix of unpredictable weather patterns. Green Mountain was cloaked in dewy fog and swept in 20 mph northwest winds. It felt like sideways rain as […]

Island Day Spa
By Chuck Graham   |   November 22, 2022

It’s just one of so many countless hidden nooks and crannies carved out over time by volcanic upheaval, the surf, and weather along the craggy coastlines of the Channel Islands National Park. Most of these concealed, volcanic alcoves, corridors, and toothy grottos are only accessible by kayak. Going on foot or even by boat won’t […]

The Other Islands
By Chuck Graham   |   March 1, 2022

The northwest swell was heaving into the northern fringe of Prince Island, a half mile off San Miguel Island in the Northern Channel Islands chain. Eleven species of seabirds use Prince Island for breeding and nesting habitat. One of those species, the common murre, had returned to Prince Island after a 100-year absence, egg collecting […]

Playing with Patches
By Chuck Graham   |   December 21, 2021

It was quite similar to many other channel crossings: overcast skies and silky-smooth sea conditions seemingly stretching from the coast to the Channel Islands National Park. It was also ideal for spotting wildlife on the Santa Barbara Channel. Common dolphins are almost a guarantee, pods numbering in the thousands seen splashing for hundreds of yards […]

A-03 Has Arrived: Bald Eagles on the Channel Islands National Park
By Chuck Graham   |   August 12, 2021

The manic cacophony of western gulls was too frantic to pass up, diverting my attention span toward drama-filled blue skies as a keystone species buzzed a prominent, weather-beaten seabird rookery. As I kayaked toward the commotion, I soon realized I was in the presence of an apex predator wreaking havoc over Scorpion Rock near the […]

My Wandering Pilgrim
By Chuck Graham   |   November 19, 2020

My early morning trail run up to Montanon Ridge on the southeast end of Santa Cruz Island was at a pace I wasn’t proud of. Cold, wet fog swirled over the volcanic isle. My joints ached but loosened with each stride above Potato Harbor, then Coche Point, and finally ascending above Chinese Harbor. Stunning seascapes […]

Through and Through: One day through-hike from the coast to the Matilija Wilderness
By Chuck Graham   |   June 4, 2020

Straddling the coastal spine of the Transverse Range, I hiked (and sometimes ran) the sandstone sea serpent that rises and falls east to west all the way from the idyllic Gaviota Coast to the stunningly breathtaking Matilija Wilderness, a stone’s throw away from Carpinteria. The chaparral-choked Santa Ynez Mountains are one of the main gateways […]