Camping Catalina's Backcountry : Catalina Express

Camping Catalina's Backcountry

Camping on Catalina Island

Want to know a secret? The real magic of Catalina Island can be found when you explore beyond the Avalon and experience the Catalina backcountry. While Avalon is limited to just about two square miles, the rest of the Island extends to nearly 76 square miles and offers an undeveloped wilderness just waiting to be discovered. 

Hike the wonders of Catalina 

Catalina Island features an extensive trail system that ranges from casual strolls to challenging treks. There’s an opportunity for everyone to experience hiking in the interior. Remember to stop by the Catalina Island Conservancy Trailhead to pick up your complimentary hiking permit. Want to get out of town with those who know the Island best? Book a guided hike

Appreciate Catalina’s natural beauty that will be there for generations to come

Thanks to the Catalina Island Conservancy, the Island’s wildlands will be preserved for years to come. Founded in the 1970s, the Conservancy protects the Island in its natural state in perpetuity. Recreation and education are allowed, but thanks to the non-profit’s mandate, you’ll never see high-rise condos or strip malls marring the remote landscape.  

camping on catalina at night

Extend your stay to overnight

There are several campsites scattered throughout the interior of the Island, including everything from remote boat-in coves to tent cabins.  Catalina Backcountry offers a camping concierge that can do everything from rent gear to setting up camp. Gear haul and camp meal services are available to be delivered and set up at your campsite, so you can explore the Island with just a daypack and some water. 

Explore the renowned Trans-Catalina Trail 

The jewel of Catalina’s hiking trails is this challenging 38.5 mile trek that takes you from one end of the Island to the other. Offering spectacular views and rugged terrain, you’ll want to take it on over a few days or a few trips. 

Catalina island foxx

Fall in love with Catalina Island foxes 

Catalina’s largest native mammal and arguable the cutest is the Island Fox. You will see this furry local on many souvenir items, but nothing is better than the real thing. You can spot them all over the Island. Recently returned from the brink of extinction; the foxes are still vulnerable. You can help ensure their future by not feeding them or encouraging them to congregate near the roads. 

Meet the famous Bison– but don’t get too close 

Catalina’s bison have been roaming the Island for nearly a century, since the original herd was left here after a movie shoot. The majestic beasts are fascinating and endlessly photographable – but getting in close for a selfie is a Very Bad Idea. Bison are notoriously unpredictable and surprising fast, so it is best to keep a large distance between you and the animals. 

one of catalina's beaches

Discover the vistas that go on forever 

Catalina offers some of the most beautiful views in the world. Whether endless views of the Pacific, remote beaches or untouched valleys, the Island will take your breath away with its scenery. 

It helps to have someone who knows where you are going. There’s a lot to know about the Island, from fascinating human history to intriguing geology and unique flora and fauna. It can take a lifetime to learn everything there is to know about Catalina, but you can get a great overview by scheduling a guided hike with a trained naturalist. 

Experience the endless adventures 

Camping and hiking are far from the other adventures available in Catalina’s backcountry. Mountain biking is also a popular experience, as is snorkeling and kayaking on the remote windward side of the Island. You can also escape Avalon for a day – or an evening – and see what the rest of the Island has to offer.


Plan your next camping trip for Catalina Island and explore the wilderness of California’s hidden gem. For more information about camping concierges and other camping services, visit or call 310-913-9036.


by Sherrie Cline

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