Island Fox (Channel Islands, California) any recommendations for seeing?

I am interested in photographing the Island fox, which is endemic to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.

My very rough plan is the following – there is a ferry to Santa Cruz islands from Ventura, California.   If you take the ferry to Scorpion Anchorage, there are trails that leads to a campground and nearby hills.  I gather that the island fox tends to hang around the campground, and/or can be seen from the surrounding trails.   You can get a ferry there in the AM and back in the PM so you don’t need to camp on the island.

That is the theory anyway – has anybody on the list actually done this?   It is likely to see a fox with one day on the island?


Post author

Nathan Myhrvold


  • BrettHartl

    Yes, very easy. You should see 5-10 in the campground and surroundings during a day trip. Done 3 times, never missed.

  • Hylobates

    They are so habituated to people that they will practically pose for you

  • Nathan Myhrvold

    Great, thanks so much for the information! One further question – how far away will the foxes be? I have to decide whether I lug a big telephoto lens or make do with something handheld

  • charleswhood

    If the rangers don’t see you offering a sandwich, you can shoot with a 20mm lens (as I have, though if a sandwich was involved, I will never say). If you own some nice 2.8 glass, that helps clean up background, especially from a range of 180 to 300mm. On the crossing, watch for common dolphins, as they are around 75% of the time. One question is, how did the foxy foxes get there. So far as I know, current vote is they probably came with Chumash and speciated once on site, though they also could have rafted over naturally. Make reservations ahead of time to go over if it’s a weekend, using Island Packers. / Charles Hood

  • PandaSmith

    Definitely easy. Did exactly what you are describing last summer. Saw a dozen foxes. A docent said, “You don’t find the foxes, they find you”….truth. HEre is about one hour of effort:

    And the trip over is good for at least two to three species of cetaceans. And definitely check for the spotted skunks!

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