Let’s Go See Butterflies! (Monarch Grove @ Pacific Grove, CA)
Seeing the Monarch Migration is a bucket list item. If I had a California Bucket list, which I might very well have in a very preliminary draft form in my mind’s eye, this would/is/was for sure on it. It is amazing how these little insects from all over choose to amass in one large heap in a few protected eucalyptus groves doting the California coastline.
Standing there surrounded by butterflies fluttering everywhere is like entering a new culture – standing in a busy foreign city with colors and scents and sounds swirling – only this is a culture of nature.
When is the Monarch Migration?
The monarch butterflies migrate to Pacific Grove from Mid-October through Mid-February. Weather conditions can effect the time of migration, or the number of monarchs able to survive the migration. Since I went last weekend, in the middle of January, I can say with confidence that should you time travel back to mid January 2014 in Pacific Grove you should probably find the time to stop to see the butterflies. If you don’t have a time machine at the handy then maybe the Pacific Grove Museum website, which displays a (most?) recent count, might help you determine what it is like out there.
But when is the best time of day to see the butterflies? – It depends on what you want to see!
The first time I went was in the evening, after completing Curtis & I’s drive to the coast. This was great because the butterflies were moving and then latter begining to settle in for the night. At one point for some reason the monarchs all chose to get up and fill the sky, which was pretty amazing (although hard to capture on camera).
Because while I was there I learned about how they all settle in for the night I made us go back again earlier in the day (a morning-ish 10 or 11 am). You might not at first see anything in the morning, but once you stand there and inspect the handing eucalyptus trees (binoculars help for this) you will see that those are not leaves but HUNDREDS of butterflies. Because they are not moving these butterflies are much easier to photograph, and look very impressive in their clumps.
Monarch Grove Santuary – Pacific Grove, CA
Where: as you turn off of Lighthouse Rd to the sanctuary the parking is a free for all, so just as long as you dont park in a private home or hotel grab that spot! Map
Distance: This isn’t about hiking, it is simply a short flat path to the grove. No dogs allowed, and don’t forget to bring the binoculars and best zoom camera you own.
After we got our fill of butterflies at the grove Curtis and I visited the Natural History Museum in the town of Pacific Grove. The butterfly exhibit is not super modern, but I did learn about caterpillars shedding from a retro documentary played on loop.
More pictures in the Gallery Below: