Just off the shore of California, Channel Islands National Park feels untouched compared to the rest of the state—and it’s often overlooked compared to the Golden State’s more popular national parks. That’s a shame, since the 249,354-acre park offers pure ocean beauty across five islands and their surrounding marine ecosystems.
Recommended by: Sally Jewell, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, understands how the national parks have become an enduring legacy in the lives of ordinary people. As the CEO of the iconic co-op retailer REI, she oversaw the growth of a store that did not just sell outdoor gear but also encouraged its members to get out and explore public lands. President Obama named her Secretary of the Interior in 2013, making her the second woman to serve in the job.
What Makes It Special: “From growing up enjoying Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier National Parks, to a lifetime of regular visits to national parks across the country, each place is special in its own way. I love all of our national parks—natural, historical, and cultural—I find my park wherever I am,” Jewell says. “In March of this year, I visited Channel Islands National Park on Santa Cruz Island. The trip was part of President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative, and I had a great time hanging out with 90 fourth graders while handing out their free passes to America’s public lands.”
Go Here: “For many of these children, the field trip represented their first trip to a national park and their first boat ride ever, and they were eager to share all that they had learned in school from national park ranger Monica about the Channel Island fox. The Channel Island fox was on the verge of extinction 16 years ago, with its population down more than 90 percent. A partnership came together to assist with the fox’s recovery, including removing non-native wild and domesticated animals that destroyed habitat. The children had learned all about the science and collaborative efforts that were needed to save the fox from extinction, and they understood just how special it was that they could witness this animal back in the wild. Thanks to the teachers, ranger Monica, and the people who worked on the fox’s recovery, these children now have a connection to this special place and inspiration to become scientists and public land stewards themselves.”
This story was originally published in 2016. It was edited and updated on February 23, 2018.
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