Each year from October to February flights of Monarch butterflies descend upon the quaint town of Pacific Grove. The Monarch Grove Sanctuary, located on Lighthouse Avenue and Ridge Road, is the hub of this annual convention.

Monarch Grove Sanctuary

At first glance you might think, “Where the heck are all of these ’thousands‘ of Monarchs?” The key is to fixate on one of the fluttering butterflies and see where it lands. It will usually land next to a cluster of butterflies. These clusters resemble brown/dried leaves on trees which can make the butterflies difficult to identify. Monarch butterflies gravitate to these huddles in the shelter of eucalyptus trees in order to stay warm throughout the winter. It’s amazing how these bright and brilliant bodies camouflage so well in the trees!

Monarch butterflies in eucalyptus trees at Monarch Grove Sanctuary

Most of these fragile creatures have traveled over 2,000 miles to reach this destination. What makes this even crazier is that the majority of these intuitive insects have never been to Pacific Grove as Monarch life spans typically do not reach one year. No one really knows how the butterflies find their way back each year. After their brief coastal vacation the butterflies will spread out through the Central Valley, Sierras and northeast to the Rocky Mountains.

Monarch butterflies

Admission into the Monarch Grove Sanctuary is free! The sanctuary is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Docents are available to answer questions November through February from 12pm-3pm. Be sure to bring binoculars and/or a high-powered zoom camera lens to really appreciate these majestic Monarchs.

Visitors catch a glimpse of Monarch butterflies

The Monarch Grove Sanctuary is located on Ridge Road off of Lighthouse Avenue in Pacific Grove. The entrance is located near white picket fences and parking is available near the Butterfly Grove Inn.