23 January 2015

Monarch butterfly tourism locations

Smithsonian offers a list of seven locations in North America where Monarch butterflies can be seen in large numbers.

Point Pelee National Park, Ontario, Canada 
"Because the migration happens over such a considerable distance, butterflies look for shortcuts whenever they can, which is what makes Point Pelee such a desirable spot—located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie, the site gives thousands of monarchs a head-start on their southward journey. After following the shape of the peninsula, the butterflies will funnel to the tip of the point and wait for a breeze to help them begin their migration"

Monarch Butterfly Grove: Pismo Beach, California
"From mid-October through mid-February, thousands of monarchs congregate on the grove's trees, providing visitors with a spectacular sight. One of the largest in the nation, the grove at Pismo Beach regularly hosts around 25,000 butterflies each season."

Monarch Grove Sanctuary: Pacific Grove, California
"...monarchs arrive by the thousands to rest on the thick branches of eucalyptus trees. Located in a city park, the sanctuary is free and open to visitors from sunrise to sunset."

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove: Goleta, California
"...in 2011, the wintering population peaked at 47,510). The preserve is open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. Docents are available to lead tours around midday on weekends."

Natural Bridges State Beach: Santa Cruz, California
"...at peak numbers, some 100,000 monarchs come to the area to enjoy the mild, oceanside climate and rest in the preserve's eucalyptus trees."

Monarch Biosphere Reserve: Michoacán, Mexico
"In 2008, the Monarch Biosphere Reserve was named a Unesco World Heritage Site for its critical role in supporting populations of the migrating butterflies. Monarchs come to the area by the millions—sometimes, by the billions—to escape the cold northern winters."

Piedra Herrada: Los Saucos, Mexico
"More remote than areas to the north, visitors usually take horses up the steep incline, then hike through thick vegetation to reach the butterflies."

You guys in southern California are so lucky.  If you are a reader of this blog and have never taken the time to visit one of the winter Monarch sanctuaries, I'm disappointed in you.


  1. Are any of the spots appreciably better than the others? This is something I would love to get on the calendar. I've heard that the Mexico spots are incredible, any recommendations?

  2. This might interest your readers and your excellent self too.

    1. Previously blogged -


  3. Point Pelee is an interesting place generally. Never been there for the Monarchs, though.

  4. I saw some nice large groups in the trees at an Interstate 10 rest stop east of El Paso a few years ago. They were the only trees (and water) around for them on their route, I guess.

    The idea that they are going to Mexico to escape the cold weather seems a bit simplistic to me since they take several generations to make the loop, right? It seems more to be a pattern learned over millennia and one that may have lengthened as the land has shifted places over time, perhaps.

  5. In 1986, we were living on Vandenberg AFB, CA, about 1 hour north of Santa Barbara. Hiking and birding behind base housing one morning, I came upon a grove of eucalyptus trees. One step closer and the "leaves" of the tree suddenly exploded into flight, a living snow globe experience of dancing orange and black wings against an azure sky, thousands upon thousands. It was a moment of wonder.

    I never read anywhere about that massive grouping of Monarch butterflies and wondered if it was known to others. The base is nearly 100,000 acres of open and untouched land (save for the remote missile silos) and I've often wondered if there had been any studies done of the butterflies there.


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