Visiting The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

Visiting The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary

Every year, thousands upon thousands of monarch butterflies pass through Monterey County on a major annual migration. This stop on the trip is called overwintering, and it will be coming to an end this March. To give our travelers some insight on how to experience the phenomenon, and understand it, we are giving some insight into visiting The Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove.

The Monarch

The monarch butterfly is also known as a milkweed butterfly, and it’s one of the best known North American butterflies. A pollinator, it’s best recognized for signature amber wings outlined by black lines and veins. Their annual west coast migration brings scores of these beautiful creatures to Monterey every winter.

The Migration

The monarch butterfly is a tropical insect that will travel as far north as Canada during the spring and summer. In the winter it must come south, with some flying all the way to Central America.

Pacific Grove

Monterey County’s Pacific Grove is home to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, a group of cypress and eucalyptus trees where the butterflies cluster during the winter months. The migration here is so specific and unique, that Pacific Grove has been aptly nicknamed Butterfly Town, U.S.A.


Every summer and early fall, a unique generation of monarchs is born, and they live up to eight months—longer than the average monarch born at other times of year. They delay their sexual maturity and fly as far south has 2,000 miles from their starting point in Canada to temperate and reachable destinations like the trees in Pacific Grove. To see them, get over there by the end of February, as it’s known that most are off on their spring migration by March.

Other Wildlife in Monterey

If you’re into insects and other animals to catch this season, check out our post on Winter Wildlife in Monterey. This city and county are also major destinations for whale watching, a popular outing for travelers.

Discover More of Monterey Bay

Planning a visit to the shores of Monterey Bay? Experience the region like a local, following our insider recommendations on the Sanctuary Beach Resort blog!