When we dreamed up our yearlong “Find Your Adventure” series saluting the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, we set out to focus not only on the parks themselves, but on the unique adventures to be had therein.
Which brings us to this week’s national park escapades, a little something we’re calling Island Hopping. While you can’t drive your motorhome to these units of the National Park Service (unless you have one of these), all offer narrated boat trips and/or hiking/kayaking excursions that make great ways to see these uniquely pristine destinations while beating the summer heat in the process:
Channel Islands National Park
Though it may seem hard to believe, just off the crowded coast of Southern California, between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, are the five unspoiled islands that make up this relatively new national park. Daylong sightseeing trips from the ports of Ventura and Oxnard offer a glimpse of the islands’ rare wildlife, ranging from the dolphins, sea lions and endangered blue whales offshore, to the rare spotted skunk and Channel Islands fox. Local outfitters also make it possible to snorkel the clear waters of the Scorpion Bay marine sanctuary, kayak the islands’ hundreds of sea caves or hike the wildflower-filled interiors. No matter which activity you choose, you’ll find these islands are a place made for unforgettable adventures.
Isle Royale National Park
Located along the northern edge of Lake Superior, this park’s 45-mile-long main island and the 450 small islands that surround it may be part of the state of Michigan, but they’re within spitting distance of the Canadian border. There are no permanent residents, however, unless you count the moose and wolves that call the islands home. Ferries run from several cities on the Michigan and Minnesota mainland. There’s no wheeled transportation on the islands, so be sure to wear a good pair of walking shoes – and insect repellent, especially during June and July bug season.