The Galapagos of North America

Sailing Channel Islands National Park

The Galapagos of North America

By Keith Dahlin

For over a year, my family and I have been sailing Steadfast, our Spindrift 43, out of Channel Islands Harbor in Ventura County, California. Eleven miles west of the harbor, a two- to three-hour sail, lies Anacapa Island. Beyond Anacapa sit three larger islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. These islands, along with Santa Barbara Island to the south, make up the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary.

Called the Galapagos of North America for their unique natural history, these islands also have a cultural history that spans at least 13,000 years. Local anthropologist Phil Orr discovered the 13,000-year-old remains of “Arlington Springs Man” on Santa Rosa Island in 1959. Perhaps the oldest dated human remains in North America, Arlington Springs Man supports the theory that the first immigrants to North America migrated along the Pacific coast from Siberia and Alaska using boats to inhabit the Channel Islands.

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