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Monach butterflies are just lovely to see in person. They’re bright and colorful, with an easily recognizable orange, black and white pattern across their wings. Every year, from October through early March, these butterflies migrate to central & southern California, mostly coming in from areas west of the Rocky Mountains, and south from Oregon & Idaho. They flock to San Diego, Orange County, Monterey and Santa Cruz, forming huge clusters in groves along the coast. They’ll only be here for a couple more months, so there’s no better time than now to grab your camera and check them out while they’re still here. Especially at these locations!

1. Goleta Monarch Butterfly Grove

monarch butterflies Goleta Butterfly Grove

Goleta’s Butterfly Grove is set among beautiful coastal forest on an ocean bluff. Walk through on any winter day and you may be able to spot clusters of these bright butterflies hanging around the Eucalyptus trees.

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If you continue all the way through it also leads down to Ellwood Beach. Here you can follow several trails, or just lay back and marvel over the ocean views.

 

2. Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove

monarch butterflies

The North Beach Grove at Pismo State Beach is an excellent place to see these vibrant butterflies by the thousands. It’s easy to access off Highway 1, near the North Beach Campground. Brightly colored signs will point you in the right direction of the exit and a free public parking area.

monarch butterflies Pismo State Beach – North Beach

After seeing the beautiful monarchs, you can take a relaxing walk north on Pismo North Beach towards the Pismo Beach Pier, or south on a boardwalk through dunes, beside Pismo Beach’s 9-hole golf course.

 

3. Santa Cruz Monarch Butterfly Grove

monarch butterflies Natural Bridges State Beach

On the western end of Natural Bridges State Beach – a prime spot to watch the sunset – this serene monarch grove has butterflies that usually stick around until mid-February.

To see them, you can take a path known as the Monarch Butterfly Trail that winds through the grove of trees. Also make sure to swing by the Visitor Center here, as they have a lot of great information on these butterflies and their annual migration.

 

4. Pacific Grove Butterfly Sanctuary

monarch butterflies via Wikipedia Agunther

Though small, this grove of trees serves as home to thousands of migrating butterflies in the winter months. It’s set just behind the appropriately-named Butterfly Grove Inn, only a few minutes from Asilomar State Beach.

monarch butterflies Asilomar State Beach

Vibrant monarch butterflies cluster here on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees. Pacific Grove sees so many monarchs every year they’ve even gained the nickname “Butterfly Town USA”.


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