The monarch butterfly is a type of milkweed butterfly.
Every year in October, the monarch butterflies arrive in Pacific Grove. Locals have come to treasure this time of year and the annual visitors, so much so, the Monarch Butterfly. Pacific Grove citizens have also advocated for changes to protect the monarch butterfly, which has resulted in the Monarch Grove Sanctuary (currently closed) and strict enforcement by local police against butterfly molestation.
If you’re looking to join locals in celebrating these magnificent annual visitors, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
When to See the Monarch Butterflies
Monarch butterflies spend their winter in the warm climate of the central coast of California. Starting in October and peaking in late November or early December, visitors to the region will be sure to enjoy sightings of these bright orange butterflies. The monarchs typically depart for their summer residences starting in late February or early March.
The Best Time of Day to See Monarchs
The Monarch Grove Sanctuary is located in Pacific Grove, California.
From October to February, visitors to Pacific Grove are sure to see the monarch butterflies as they overwinter in the warmer climate.
The best time of day to see the monarchs is after the sun has come up and the air has warmed. The monarchs can’t fly when the temperature is below 55 degrees and they’ll spend their time high up in trees, where they’re difficult to spot.
The sanctuary is unfortunately temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Typically, from November to February, from 12 pm to 3 pm every day, you’ll find docents at the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary. Taking a tour from a trained docent can significantly enhance your likelihood of seeing monarchs. This is definitely an experience you will want to make note of as restrictions are lifted.
The butterfly habitats are cherished by the locals. Volunteers spend time restoring the habitats by planting, weeding, and watering. New trees and flowering nectar plants are also added to help replenish.
Where to See the Monarch Butterflies
The monarch can travel up to 100 miles a day.
The best place to see monarch butterflies is in Pacific Grove. While you’re likely to see butterflies while walking around the city, the best place to stop and see clusters of butterflies is the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary.
Entrance to the sanctuary is free and nearby parking is also free. Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary is located just 10 blocks from the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History and within a mile of Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds. The sanctuary and museum are temporarily closed. Be sure to stay tuned for updates through the museum’s website.
Butterfly Viewing Etiquette
Monarch butterflies smell with their antennas.
As you’re walking around Pacific Grove and admiring the butterflies, be sure to follow these butterfly etiquette rules. These rules are for the safety of the butterflies and to ensure everyone gets to enjoy them.
Stay on Paths
Butterflies drink water from the dew that collects on plants and grass. Stay on the paths to avoid accidentally stepping on a butterfly.
Do Not Touch
The Pacific Grove Police Department strictly enforces the regulations around the “molestation of butterflies.” You can’t touch or pick-up butterflies or you will be fined $1,000. Additionally, touching a butterfly can damage their wings, which may shorten their lifespan.
Leave Only Footprints, Take Only Photos
To keep the city clean and sustainable, it’s important to not litter or pick up any natural specimens.
Where to Stay
The Asilomar Hotel is close to all the action like the beach, hiking trails, and great dining.
Visiting from out of town? The Asilomar Hotel and Conference Grounds offers lodging with beach access, ocean views, and a notable historic charm. Built between 1913 – 1928, Julia Morgan, a renowned architect, contributed to the building design and architecture. Be sure to check ahead for available amenities.
If you’re planning a trip to Pacific Grove, consider stopping by between October and February to catch sight of the bright orange wings of the monarch butterflies.