Monarch Butterfly Tours at Natural Bridges State Beach.

Monarch Butterfly Tours at Natural Bridges State Beach.

Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00a.m. and 2:00p.m. October 9, 2011 through January 30, 2012

Guided tours of the monarch grove take place during the winter months, when migrating monarchs come to Santa Cruz. Monarch migration is variable, before you visit, you may want to call the park to find out population particulars at (831) 423-4609 (stroller and wheelchair accessible).

The Monarch migration generally starts around October. If temperatures drop earlier, then the butterflies will go south, travelling about 50 miles in a single day. The Rocky Mountains appear to be the dividing line that helps determine where the Monarch migrates—if they’re east, they go to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican state of Michoacán; and if they’re west, they go to Southern California, most notably around Santa Cruz. When they arrive at their destination, the butterflies tend to use the same trees each year to roost, huddling together for warmth, which makes for a truly bizarre and wonderful experience to observe.

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