Located off the coast of California, this small island chain could very well be the Galapagos of the United States. A marine sanctuary, bird sanctuary and home to around 70 unique, endemic species, both the land and waters surrounding these islands are filled with some of the most spectacular flora and fauna found anywhere in the world. As if that weren’t enough, the oldest human remains found in North America were discovered here, showing that humans once occupied this land as early as 13,000 BCE and bringing to light new theories about human arrival in the Americas. Rather than being in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, this small island chain is barely 100 miles off the coast of the major metropolis that is Los Angeles. This world of wonder and wildlife is Channel Islands National Park.
The year 1980 was a banner year for the National Parks System with nine national parks opening that year - more than any other on record. Channel Islands became the first of those nine national parks, and bolstered the conservation and preservation efforts of America's growing environmental movement. Today, visitors still come to tour the five of the seven Channel Islands preserved within the park's boundaries while researchers and scientists have been able to use the area's endemic species to learn more about the natural world.
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