“See the Monarchs flock to the beach!”
Each year thousands of vibrant orange and black Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in the limbs of a grove of Eucalyptus trees at Pismo State Beach. The grove is easily accessible. It is located on State Highway 1 at the south boundary of the city limits of Pismo Beach. Spectators come from all over the Central Coast and throughout the state to view the Monarchs. Visitors are greeted by knowledgeable and well-informed volunteer docents offering daily talks and information. The butterflies form dense clusters with each one hanging with its wing down over the one below it to form a shingle effect. This provides shelter from the rain and warmth for the group. The weight of the cluster help keeps it from whipping in the wind and dislodging the butterflies. Our colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 butterflies over the last five years. The Monarchs that visit Pismo Beach are a special variety. They have a life span of six months as opposed to that of common Monarchs who live only six weeks. This can be attributed to a unique fat storing system. However, even with an extended life span, those butterflies that leave in March will never return. Scientists do not know why the Monarchs consistently return to some wintering sites. In North America, those sites range from the Central and Southern California Coast to Mexico. Some scientists speculate that the insects are equipped with genetic homing systems that lead them from their summer sites in the Sierras, Florida, Canada and the Great Lakes Region in North America back to their winter locations. On the Central Coast, Monarchs winter in Pismo Beach, Pacific Grove and Morro Bay. The Natural History Museum In Morro Bay is an excellent resource for information about Monarchs. During the season the Docent Trailer opens at 10am and closes at 4pm daily. Daily talks happen at 11am and 2pm, weather permitting. For more information or directions, please call the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce at 800-443-7778. Be sure to visit ClassicCalifornia.com – the Pismo Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau’s web site for more information about Pismo Beach.
The season is November through February. They have docents/hosts there during that time that can answer questions and tell you all about the Monarch Butterflies.
We stopped here in the morning and there were very few people. The volunteers were just setting up the scopes for us to see the butterflies better. We saw butterflies flying around in the trees and thousands were hanging from the trees. It was much easier seeing them through the scopes. From a distance they look like leaves on the trees. There was a little trailer at the front which had some information and things to buy. It was free to walk through and is open 24 hours. Parking was along the street. Later in the day it was much busier and much more crowded.
Just minutes from the beach, the Monarch Butterfly Grove is so worth to see.
These butterflies make their way there in order to get protected.
Such a color fantasy, thousands of butterflies flying here and there, without being afraid of the human existence.
We were all so impressed by this event, I strongly recommend it to everyone travelling to Pismo Beach.
If you are using your cameras in order to memorize the moments, make sure you turn your flash off so you won't scare those beautiful creatures trusting you being there.
when is the season? I am planning to go on beginning of August.
Wow everyone has to come and experience nature. Daniele the park ranger was super nice.
From November to February, The Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove has one of the largest overwintering western monarch populations anywhere. It's a really cool place to visit, and one of the best things to do in Pismo Beach!
I went in March and there were no butterflies to be seen anywhere. It wasn't worth the stop in my opinion.
Overrated. Nice stop for a walk but barely any butterflies
Hanging in bunches from tall, leafy trees are some of the most graceful and stunning creatures of the bug world: the Monarch Butterfly. This stop is most definitely one you won’t want to miss.
In their great migration towards warmth, eventually reaching Mexico, herds of monarch butterflies stop at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove to rest. You can literally watch the butterflies huddle together on branches through the park provided telescopes. The quality is sharp and the monarch’s unique bright orange color shines. The park rangers are helpful and informative, sharing all kinds of Monarch facts and adjusting the telescopes so you can get the sharpest view. The park also has a cute gift shop where you are able to purchase monarch butterfly apparel, as well as educational materials and art activities for children. This spot is perfect for those fascinated by the beauty of nature. Bring a good camera with a good zoom if you have one, you will want to capture their bright orange colors!
Beautiful place for a rest stop on a road trip. They have temp. bathroom facilities and sinks. Visited in early February and there weren't many monarchs to be seen but some were visible floating around the tops of the trees. Hopefully next time I will catch peak season
Be the first to add a review to the Monarch Butterfly Grove.
Monarch Butterfly Grove
- Sun - Sat: 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
Problem with this listing? Let us know.
Credit Cards Accepted