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Monarch Butterfly Migration at Natural Bridges

Spend an afternoon with the butterflies at Natural Bridges State

found in: family , westside , adventure , natural bridges share


Tuesday, Nov 01, 2016 @ 12:00am

Wednesday, Nov 30, 2016 @ 12:00am


The Monarch butterfly migration has been called one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world.


bring binoculars

parking is $10

cash works best here

The Spot

Natural Bridges State Park

2531 W Cliff Dr
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Natural Bridges State Beach is a 65 acre California state park on the edge of Santa Cruz. Most known for its natural bridge across the beach, it’s also known for the eucalyptus grove that hosts thousands of migrating monarch butterflies every year.

There are at least a dozen things you can do at Natural Bridges, including swimming, windsurfing, sandcastle building, whale & dolphin watching, tide-pooling, walking and picnicking. But this time, we are going for the butterflies.

As the only state Monarch preserve in California, the eucalyptus grove inside the park provides the perfect food source and shelter from the wind and cold for more than 150,000 migrating Monarch butterflies each year. The Monarchs start arriving in early October and generally leave by Valentine’s Day.

The grove contains eucalyptus trees located down a gently sloping canyon. The walking path down the canyon is about ½ mile on a boardwalk with handrails, spots to pull over and informational boards to read along the way. Depending on the butterflies schedule, free guided tours happen on the weekends 11am-2pm from mid-October through January. Often there are docents with binoculars and scopes to look through on the weekends, instead of joining a full tour.

To get there it’s easiest to pay the park entrance fee ($10), follow the small road through the park and park in the visitor center parking lot. The eucalyptus grove is stroller friendly and accessible by wheelchair.

Join a Butterfly Tours on the Weekends, and get more information from park docents and a chance to look through their telescopes & binoculars for a closer look.

Getting there: Take Swift Street south from Highway 1. Natural Bridges State Park is at the end of Swift, where it meets West Cliff Drive. Or follow West Cliff Drive until it ends at Natural Bridges.