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Monarch Butterfly Grove, Pismo Beach

State Highway 1 South, Pismo Beach, California 93449 USA

Free
Free to Visit
Closed Now
Opens Sat 10a
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
Add to Trip

“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.

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Reviewed by
ivylian

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 3, 2014

when is the season? I am planning to go on beginning of August.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
karla.meador

  • 2 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
January 9, 2014

Wow everyone has to come and experience nature. Daniele the park ranger was super nice.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Bxoxo83

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
February 6, 2017
Rated 4.0

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

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Reviewed by
blainey73

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
January 9, 2016

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.

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Reviewed by
ElaineSaramago

  • 6 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
January 4, 2016

Many butterflies but you got to have a good camera to take a good picture. I believe October would be the best time to view the butterflies as they mention on the signs.

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Reviewed by
dbmcdonald

  • 5 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
December 27, 2014
Rated 3.0

Nice to see but fewer butterflies than expected

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Reviewed by
Greek_nomad

  • Road Warrior
  • 401 Reviews
  • 191 Helpful
September 29, 2014
Rated 5.0

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.

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Monarch Butterfly Grove, Pismo Beach

State Highway 1 South
Pismo Beach, California
93449 USA

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Hours

Closed Now
  • Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

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  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
  • Street Parking
  • Free Parking

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