One of the most popular motor tours of the island is the inland motor tour. The tour departs from the Tour Plaza in Avalon and is on a bus-The Discovery Tours inland ride is on an old brown 1950s city bus converted into an all terrain vehicle (called the 50's Flexible bus) . With comfortable leather seats and big windows the ride is comfortable and scenic. The Catalina Adventure Tours company offers the tour in a more of an airport shuttle style type bus.
Both tours climb onto steep canyon and mountainside roads out of Avalon. Within ten minutes of the tour riders are high above Avalon looking down into the town and out into the crystal blue Pacific Ocean. The tour begins to travel along dirty and gravel roads and at certain points those sitting on the right hand side will notice there is no guardrail or much of a road between the bus and the cliff-just a 200 foot or more drop straight down into the ocean below. It is said when WIlliam Wrigley was building Catalina Island as a tourist destination he would offer horse and carriage rides on these roads where it was a 4 hour ride up the side of the cliffs but only a full speed 18 minute ride down!
As the tour navigates its way through the Catalina Interior, guides point out the various points of interest of the island. These include Scenic Middle Ranch, Catalina Island Fox habitat, little harbor overlook at Catalina's windward side and the Wrigley Arabian horse ranch. In addition the bus will pass native plants, several reservoirs that water the town of Avalon and interesting facts of the history of the island. The tours finally arrive at the Catalina Island Airport (Also known as Airport in the Sky) . Located on top of a mountain range, the airport is a single landing strip , where its north end hangs off a cliff creating quite an interesting illusion for arriving private pilots. Visitors on the tour bus are let out for fifteen minutes to take pictures, use the rest room, enjoy the airports bakery of delicious homemade cookies and gift shop. After fifteen minutes the tour returns back to Avalon.
Now its not a total guarantee that the tour will encounter any wildlife but there is a good chance that the bus may pass right up next to several wild bison. Catalina Island is home to over 250 of the creatures and they roam freely across the entire island, from the borders of Avalon all the way up to the airport. Those looking to have serious interaction and a guarantee of a spotting may prefer the off road Canyon Tour that also departs from the Tour Plaza in Avalon.
Want to feel like your in Africa? Want to boar and all terrain safari type vehicle and climb deep into the Catalina Interior on narrow deep roads that climb to the very tops of the mountains? Check out the Cape Canyon Tour. Departing from the Tour Plaza center at the center of Avalon, these tours take visitors high into the Catalina Interior giving guests up close and personal views of Catalina's nature, including the over 250 buffalo, bald eagles and red tail foxes.
The off terrain vehicle a 12 passenger Mercedes Unimog looks like something only found in Africa, where passengers sit up high under canopy giving them 360 views. The Unimog climbs high into the Catalina Island interior giving riders breathtaking views where roads are one way, steep and drop off on the sides up to 300 feet into the rocky cliffs and ocean below. The tour is almost guaranteed to come into intimate contact with the many buffalo, some nursing young while others laying out in the sunshine. The tour also includes the Airport in the Sky (Catalina Island Airport) and lunch.