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America's Most Underrated National Parks

Channel Islands, CA

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Channel Islands National Park, CA

Just offshore from developed SoCal lie the Channel Islands, five of which are protected as a national park. Fewer than 30,000 people actually leave the mainland to explore the islands themselves, where 175 miles of untrammeled shores make pristine breeding grounds for harbor seals and sea lions.

Cool Facts: Among the islands’ more than 2,000 plant and animal species are 145 found nowhere else in the world; they also have one of the best-preserved archaeological records on the Pacific coast, documenting 10,000 years of continuous human habitation.

Don’t Miss: A boat tour during whale migrations (blue and humpback in summer, gray from late December to mid-March) and a hike on the easy, 1.5-mile Anacapa Loop trail, which runs along the island’s dramatic ridgeline.

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