Countless clusters of fragile orange wings fluttering overhead look awesome on the blue-sky backdrop. Also, clusters of monarch butterflies may be found sleeping on tree trunks or bent branches. Despite being light when taken separately, in clusters, they become quite heavy.
This unique spectacle can be seen throughout the winter months when all the monarchs from the Rocky Mountains gather together and head to their wintering sites in California.
Pacific Grove is just a stone's throw from the Monterey Bay Aquarium and several stones from Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Monarch Sanctuary is located in beautiful downtown with free parking on Ridge Road. This area boasts the largest population of overwintering monarchs in Monterey County for public viewing and is generally one of the largest monarch overwintering sites in America. Clustered high in numerous trees in overwintering places, monarchs might call up dead leaves, so get your eyes ready for distinguishing them.
Another spectacular monarch wintering ground is located at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz. It is the only State Monarch Preserve in California, and it welcomes over 100,000 monarchs each winter. Monarchs chose this habitat due to the vast eucalyptus grove and moderate coastal weather. The grove is located in a canyon and is sheltered from coastal winds and harsh sunlight. Eucalyptus trees are flowering during winter providing pollinators food. If you want to see monarchs flying, make sure the weather is warm enough. If it's colder than 55 °F (13 °C), monarchs stay on the trees forming clusters.
Pismo Beach Butterfly Grove is known to host one of the largest monarch congregations in California. The sanctuary that can be accessed from North Beach Campground is also one of the most picturesque spots on the Central California Coast. If you plan to visit Santa Barbara, there is another beautiful coastal sanctuary there, which consists of pine and eucalyptus trees. Goleta’s Butterfly Grove trail will lead you right to the stunning Ellwood Beach.
The monarchs start arriving to California groves in mid-October and can stay as late as March. Fauna connoisseurs claim their mating rituals take place in mid-February around Valentine's Day—these monarchs truly are such romantic creatures!