Seasonal wildlife at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Monterey

April 9, 2021
Monarch Butterfly close up - Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Monterey

Monterey is known for its wildlife. Everyone knows about the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the seals and sea lions that sun themselves on the rocks along the coast. But another kind of critter likes to pop into the area occasionally--the flying kind.

Every year, Monarch Butterflies call on the central California coast to spend their winter. While you're staying at the Ramada Inn Monterey CA, pop on over to the Monterey Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and have a look.

Take Off to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Monterey

Monarch Butterfly standing in a flower

Between November and March every year, millions of winged insects descent on Monterey and the Central Californian coast. As creepy as that sounds, it's a beautiful display worth checking out. You see, these winged insects are the beautiful and universally-loved Monarch Butterflies.

The West Coast Monarchs come from their summer accommodations in Canada to spots all along the Pacific Coast. On the eastern seaboard, Monarch populations commute between Canada and the mountains of Mexico. Some migrate more than 2,000 miles!

We're all familiar with migrating whales and birds. But the fascinating thing about the Monarch's migration is that their lifespans are shorter than the trip. So every Monarch is making the trip for the first time. By the time the Monarchs return the following year, several generations have passed. As many as five generations pass during one way of the trip.

Monarch Viewing Tips

Monarch Butterflies

Make sure it's over 55 degrees. The butterflies can't fly if the temperatures are too low, so if you visit the Sanctuary on a cold day, you might not see any. They are safely resting in the trees and will venture out again when it gets warmer.

Be quiet and respectful. Like all wild animals, the butterflies are spooked by loud sounds and sudden movements. To see as many critters as you can, talk softly and take your time. Also, the Sanctuary is in the middle of town, with private homes and hotels surrounding it. Dogs are not allowed at the Sanctuary.

Don't touch or pick up the butterflies. The police department in Pacific Grove enforces the city's ordinance against molesting any butterflies. The fine is a stiff $1,000.

Stay on the paths. The butterflies often drink from tiny puddles of dew on the leaves at ground level. If you go offroading, you'll likely step on them and not realize it.

Learn More at the Sanctuary

Monarch Grove Sanctuary Sign

Even though the Monarchs only visit us for a few months every year, you can visit their Sanctuary year-round. The Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary has been rated as the sixth most important overwintering site in California. Nearby George Washington Park is another important site.

During the overwintering season, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has docents on-site at the Sanctuary to guide guests around and to answer any questions you might have.

The sanctuary entrance is located off of Lighthouse Avenue on Ridge Road. Keep in mind that seasonal variations in temperature and other factors like active wildfire season can dramatically impact the migrating populations. Sightings fluctuate year-to-year and day-to-day.

See the Beautiful Monarchs of Monterey During Your Stay

The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary Monterey, and the Museum of Natural History, are great stops for the nature lovers in your group. Add these spots to your to-do list. During peak years, the aggregations of butterflies are a natural wonder.

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