During a recent trip to the Monterey Bay area I decided to visit the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove. Having never been before, I envisioned native trees covered with clusters of beautiful butterflies – and while I was right in some respects, my first visit to the butterfly grove was a little disappointing.
I had read that the monarchs come to Pacific Grove each year from November to February, so I planned my visit for an early morning in mid-February, hoping to avoid crowds of people.
I arrived at 8:00 a.m. and found deer …and a few birds. I quietly walked the wide and well-packed dirt path noting the general accessibility but I saw no butterflies.Near the entrance to the grove a docent from the nearby Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History had set up a telescope. It was pointed toward the high branches of the eucalyptus trees, and peeking through the lens I saw clusters of what I thought were dry leaves. Looking closer, I saw that those “leaves” were actually butterflies, their wings tightly closed to keep themselves warm. Interesting, but not the beauty I had hoped to see. Disappointed but still hoping to see the Monarchs in flight, I decided to return later in the day. Carrieanna had never been there either and she was happy to come with me and check out the accessibility.
The coastal morning overcast had been replaced by sunshine and the temperature was warmer, and that was the magic combination. The butterflies were warm, plentiful and active! We wandered along the pathway enjoying their beauty. There were a few benches placed alongside the path, inviting visitors to sit and enjoy the natural ambiance. The sanctuary is located in a quiet area residential area behind The Butterfly Grove Inn.
I was pleased to see an accessible portable restroom at the end of the pathway.
Carrieanna was easily able to roll herself down the path; the slight incline made it challenging for her to make the return trip so I pushed the wheelchair.
A motorized chair would have no trouble navigating the path, while someone in a manual chair would probably need a companion to help them get back up to the entrance.
PS: For anyone interested in the wildflowers of Pacific Grove, there will be a [mostly free] Wildflower Show presented by Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History April 17-19, 2015.
(All photos ©2015 ImagesByRJM – All rights reserved)