Monarch Butterfly Grove to Meadow Creek Trail is a wonderful family-friendly walk through a major seasonal butterfly migration area to beautiful Pismo Beach in Santa Maria Valley.
Looking for butterflies specifically? The eucalyptus trees will be covered in them from late October through February. This location hosts on average around 25,000 butterflies during the winter season and is one of the largest colonies in the nation. During the migration season in Pismo Beach, there are daily talks held by local docents at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and these are excellent opportunities to learn about these facsinating insects and get up close and personal with them. This specifc breed of monarch butterfly has a lifespan of about six months, which is longer than average for this species. Migrating all the way from the Rocky Mountains, they use the eucalyptus trees here as a food source and shelter. In rare cases experts have also found butterflies from British Columbia, Arizona, and Oregon at the sanctuary. Unfortunately, the monarch butterfly population is decreasing rapidly. Over 200,000 butterflies migrated to this area in 1990, and the count was only 20,000 in 2016. Most of the change in population decrease correlates with the lack of milkweed; experts believe this is due to a growth in agriculture and urban development along their migration route.
Even if you don't happen to be in the area during the migration season, this trail is a must do! The easy walk through the giant eucalyptus trees will have you humbled as soon as you arrive. Follow the path to Meadow Creek Trail and head west toward the ocean. The trail opens up to Pismo Beach, where you can wade in the ocean, build a sand castle, fly a kite, dig for clams, or do whatever you like to do most on the beach!
If you have the opportunity to stay a night or two, the North Beach Campground is just next door. Boasting over 100 camping sites, there is plenty of room for everyone. It is first-come, first served between December 1 and May 14. Make sure to book in advance if you'd like to stay between May 15 and November 30.