The Best National Park Campsites: Ford Point

Channel Islands National Park, California
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Channel Islands National Park, California
Views of the sea from Channel Islands. Photo by: Mike Boehmer

Views of the sea from Channel Islands. Photo by: Mike Boehmer

The problem with great beaches is they’re usually mobbed. But not in the Channel Islands, where a two-hour sea crossing keeps the crowds away. At Ford Point, two rocky peninsulas frame the horseshoe-shaped beach, while an offshore reef creates a swell that attracts surfers. Catch the ferry to reach Santa Rosa ($114 per person, round-trip; islandpackers.com), which will drop you off at Bechers Bay Pier. (Note: Pack enough food to accommodate the ferry’s schedule.) From the pier, it’s 9 rugged miles via the Coastal, Wreck, and Ford Point Roads to reach the beach. Pitch your tent above the tideline. Trailhead Bechers Bay Pier Season Mid-August through December to avoid nesting sea lions Permit Free; reserve up to five months in advance