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National park tips: They’re rustic, but these California islands have room for campers to relax

The Scorpion Ranch campground is one of the busiest spots on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park -- but it's still pretty sleepy.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

The next time somebody suggests a weekend in Catalina, counter with Channel Islands National Park … if you’re ready to be rustic. Its islands are a great place for an offshore getaway, and the islands don’t get a lot of overnight traffic.

When I camped on Santa Cruz Island one November night a decade ago, there was just one other guy and me. And that was at 31-campsite Scorpion Ranch, the busiest campground in the park, which includes five islands.

There are seven sites on Anacapa; 15 on Santa Rosa; nine on San Miguel; and normally there are 10 on Santa Barbara. But Santa Barbara Island has been closed since early this year because of storm damage to the dock. It’s expected to remain closed through early next year.

In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips that Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

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Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds

See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.

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