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Four-Wheeling on Catalina's Wild Side

November 25, 2001

Want to break away from the tour bus and see the "wild side" of Santa Catalina Island? For $79 per person, you can join a small group on a half-day four-wheel-drive trip that focuses on nature.

The new "Cape Canyon Tour" takes in some of the same places as Discovery Tours' long-running half-day "Inland Motor Tour": the Airport-in-the-Sky and the Summit Road overlooking bays near the resort town of Avalon. But it takes visitors off-road; focuses on the center of the island, with higher views; provides a tour of the American bald eagle habitat and Middle Ranch, run by the Catalina Island Conservancy; and is limited to six people. It's also more expensive ($79 versus $37 per person).

At Middle Ranch, tourgoers learn about restoration projects and conservation efforts around Catalina conducted by the conservancy, a nonprofit foundation that owns nearly 90% of the island's 76 square miles. Lunch is included.

The tour is available on weekends; there are plans to make it daily by summer. (310) 510-8687, http://www.catalina.com. Advance reservations are required.

Separately, the conservancy continues to offer a daily three-hour "Jeep Eco-Tour" (subject to at least two people signing up) for $98 per person that visits various parts of the interior, depending on weather and road conditions; lunch is not included. Jeeps can also be chartered for four-hour ($495 per Jeep, up to six people) and seven-hour ($795) tours. (310) 510-2595, Ext. 0, http://www.catalinaconservancy.org.

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