Scorpion Anchorage – Santa Cruz Island Camping

Santa Cruz Island is the largest Island in the Park and in the Channel Islands chain. It offers the largest campgrounds at Scorpion Anchorage. There are a total of 31 sites. 25 Sites (1-25) are family sites for up to six people and six sites (A-G) are group sites holding up to 15 people maximum in each site. Group sites may be reserved 1 year in advance and you may have up four sites (60 people) before you will need to contact the National Park for a Special Use Permit. Family sites can be reserved up to six months in advance. Family Sites are $15.00 per night and Group Sites are $40.00 per night. You may reserve up to 7 consecutive nights.

Camp sites 1-22 are in the lower loop and are all family sites.  The upper loop contains the six group sites and the last three family sites 23-25 are located above the group sites.  Campsite begin about a half mile from the pier and continue on for about a half mile.

DM Group Camp site

The campground area has shade in most sites provided by old growth (non-endemic) eucalyptus trees.  The placement of the campground in Scorpion Canyon provides shelter from the prevailing NW winds.  There are no trash cans for the public on the island, so you must pack out all trash when you leave.

SCI Camp Fares
DM CampSite 3 ESCI

This is one of the two campground that are site specific so when you reserve your site you will be assigned a site number/letter.  Campsite 1 is closest to the pier where you disembark the boat.

Scorpion Campground has potable water. Family sites have a picnic table and a large food storage box.  Group sites have multiple tables and storage boxes.  You may not clean dishes at the water spigots, so you will need a container to get water back to your campsite.

Photo by Doug Mangum - Scorpion Campsite

Campers have the opportunity to do some of the longer hikes on Santa Cruz that time restraints prevent day visitors from enjoying. Hiking to the southern environment of Smugglers Cove can be a fun all day adventure with a picnic lunch and a swim (spring and early fall). You can enjoy great views of the south shore of Santa Cruz Island, west end of Anacapa Island and evidence of the past ranching era of Santa Cruz. A vault style restroom and picnic tables are provided but no potable water is available at the restroom.

Photo by Tim Hauf - Smuggler Cove from the Olive Grove

Multiple night campers can arrange in advance to shuttle up to Prisoners Harbor and back for the day or get dropped off at Prisoners Harbor for a shorter access to an overnight stay at Del Norte Campground. (Three and a half miles one way and no potable water is available at this campground.)

During the rough weather months, November through May, you will need to make sure Island Packers schedule has not been changed due to ocean/weather conditions before you leave the camping area for the day.  Schedule changes are relayed to the park in the morning and the bulletin board or the ranger will have schedule change information.  Campers during these month should come prepared with extra food in case weather prevents us from our planned pick up.

The National Park does not allow campfires or charcoal burning on the island at any time.

Gold Line

What you will need for a great trip:

  • Food for your time on the island. (no store or restaurant)
  • Water container to get water to your campsite
  • Kitchen utensils and camp stove (No campfires are permitted)
  • An Island Packers reservation
  • A campsite reservation
  • A tent  and sleeping bag(s)
  • Gear that meets the Island Packers Restrictions/Guidelines
  • Warm cloths for the cool evenings that can occur year round.
  • Two pairs  of shoes (wet & dry) if you plan on getting in the ocean.
Gold Line

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