Monarch Grove Sanctuary – Pacific Grove, California - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Pacific Grove, California

Monarch Grove Sanctuary

Every year, over 25,000 monarchs overwinter in Pacific Grove. 

Between October and February, the butterfly trees of Pacific Grove transform. What appears to be clusters of dead leaves will, on a sunny day, suddenly burst forth from the trees and fly around in magical clouds of orange.

Home to Monarch butterflies who overwinter here, the butterflies are usually found here from October to February. The trees in the fog-shrouded Monterey pine forest of the Pacific Grove are the perfect microclimate for the monarchs with the proper humidity, light, shade, temperature, and protection from wind.

The Monarch Butterflies migration to Pacific Grove is so unique that Pacific Grove is also called “Butterfly Town, U.S.A.” and the community both welcomes butterflies and has sought for their protection. Pacgrovians are so into their monarch butterflies that the local elementary school children march in a very charming welcome back butterflies parade the first Saturday in October. In John Steinbeck’s book Sweet Thursday, a chapter is dedicated to describing this butterfly parade.

Dedicated volunteers help keep the Monarch Grove Sanctuary protected and the “molestation of butterflies” is punishable by law and carries a $1000 fine.

Know Before You Go

The Sanctuary is located amongst small housing and hotel developments, with parking available near the school along Ridge Road to the east and along Grove Avenue to the west.