The Ellwood Butterfly Grove is a small eucalyptus grove in the town of Goleta that has annually been a spot for overwintering monarch butterflies to stay on their annual migration.
Each year, monarch butterflies generations-removed from those of the previous year return to the same groves of trees along the California coast. Usually, the months of November until February are the best times to look for the monarchs.
The Ellwood Grove is about three-quarters of a mile from the parking area, and the trails are mostly flat and easy, although there may be some mud if it has been a wet season. Trails to the Butterfly Grove are marked, and other trails in the area lead along the bluffs overlooking the ocean, as well as to a trail that cuts down the sandy cliff and onto Ellwood Beach.
Because the exact trees and the numbers of overwintering butterflies tends to be fluid, they can often be hard to find. Locals report that as of winter 2016 and 2017, the numbers returning to the Ellwood grove seem to be smaller than in years past.
Those hoping to see the butterflies may find the following helpful:
More information about the habits of migrating monarchs can be read here.
The parking area is open from 4 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. Parking is free. Trash cans and a porta-potty are located at the parking lot.