Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz

Within Natural Bridges State Beach, in Santa Cruz, you’ll find the Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve, a grove of eucalyptus trees where thousands of Monarch Butterflies spend the winter each year.  The butterflies may be viewed by taking a short 0.75 mile Monarch Trail loop through the Preserve, or by simply taking the short, wheel-chair accessible Monarch Boardwalk to the viewing platform.  The monarchs are here from mid-October through mid-February.

We visited the Preserve yesterday and were so fortunate that the weather was in the 70’s.   The butterflies become more active when temperatures rise above 55 degrees, fluttering magically throughout the viewing area.  On colder days, it’s more likely you’ll find them clumped together in bunches, staying warm.  Still worth seeing!

While here, be sure to check out the Visitor Center, which has some nice exhibits about Monarch Butterflies, migration, and metamorphosis (my 5-year-old was quite interested in the video showing a caterpillar changing into a butterfly).  Also, if the tide is right, be sure to head to the tide pools!  I’ll write about that tomorrow.

For more information about Natural Bridges State Beach, visit the California State Parks website… www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=541

For specific information about the Monarch Trail, visit this page, which includes a hike description… www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25237

36 Comments

  1. jrw111 says:

    My wife used to love to see the monarchs in San Luis Obispo. She would walk the canyons while at Cal Poly and loved it so. I am forwarding these beautiful photos. Thanks for a great visual.

    Like

    1. I, too, am a Cal Poly grad. I loved the masses of monarchs near Pismo Beach. 🙂

      Like

  2. jrw111 says:

    Such beautiful photos! Am forwarding to my wife. She used to live in San Luis Obispo and loved going in some of the canyons and seeing the monarchs. Great viewing – thank you.

    Like

  3. Wow! Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Like

    1. My pleasure! Love the monarchs!

      Like

  4. gpicone says:

    Beautiful Photos!

    Like

  5. Iamrcc says:

    Photos have such a delicate feel. Thanks for visiting and the like of my Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination post.

    Like

    1. My pleasure. I enjoyed you post.

      Like

  6. janethilton says:

    I will have to add this to my list of “must see” places! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  7. PragueByKaty says:

    the butterflies are beautiful, thanks for sharing!

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      Like

  8. jackiebelle says:

    Such detailed photos. very gorgeous. I wish I could live in Santa Cruz.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      I wish I could live there, too! I used to live in Monterey, and I miss it…

      Like

  9. Thank you for visiting my page. I can’t imagine so many butterflies in one location. Amazing!

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      It was magical. 🙂

      Like

  10. you must feel like you’re walking through a fairy tale with all of those butterflies! great post! z

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      Yes, totally magical!

      Like

  11. Nice post, good blog. Monarch butterflies are found in suitable places in Australia I have found all butterflies difficult to photo. The blue iridescent Ulysses is a real challenge.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      Thanks, Jack. I, too, have difficulty with butterflies, but I’m going to keep working at it. I was envious of those around me at the butterfly refuge who had huge, expensive telephoto lenses. I bet they got some great photos. I’d love to see a blue Ulysses in real life!

      Like

  12. mmtread says:

    Monarchs seem to always be associated with overwintering in eucalyptus trees, but the trees themselves are an invasive species from Australia. Does the park provide any information about the trees themselves and where the butterflies spent winters before the introduction of eucalyptus?

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      I, too, was taught eucalyptus trees are invasive, killing everything around it. Here’s an interesting article… http://www.hcn.org/issues/220/11040

      Like

  13. I pinned this to my Pinterest board…”Local Field Trips I’d like to Take!”

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      Are there any monarch wintering spots in your area? I went to a nice one in Pismo Beach, when I lived in San Luis Obispo, but that’s still quite a ways from L.A.

      Like

      1. I don’t think so. We were always aware of Monterey and have said for years that we’d like to go to a festival. I just get excited when I see one flitter on by! 🙂

        Like

  14. lizziejoy10 says:

    Gorgeous photos of beautiful butterflies. You’ve snapped them just perfectly. Bless you.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      Thank you, Lizzie. 🙂

      Like

  15. LuAnn says:

    What stunning photos. I am bookmarking this as a must-see place to visit.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      It’s a beautiful area! The weather is best in the fall, and I’ve heard the monarchs are at their peak during the month of November.

      Like

      1. LuAnn says:

        Thanks so much for this post.

        Like

  16. Pam says:

    It’s such a wonderful place to visit. You never know how many butterflies you will see. There is another big batch of them in the park behind the Surfer Museum/Lighthouse.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      I haven’t been to the Surfer Museum… something new to check out!

      Like

  17. Andrew says:

    I love Natural Bridges. It was the first beach my Mother took me to and we take the grand kids there every summer. This is a great time of year to be Santa Curz.

    Like

    1. A Nature Mom says:

      What wonderful memories! It’s my favorite beach in the Santa Cruz area, and, yes, the best weather is in the fall. I lived in Monterey for five years, so I know the weather well…

      Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s