We were visiting Santa Barbara and read about this preserve. A few articles said that the monarchs begin arriving in October so we decided to take the drive to check it out.
It was a beautifully sunny AM and the parking lot was almost empty when we arrived. We met a gentleman leaving and I asked if he had seen any butterflies and he replied "none....if they were here, they'd be all over the parking lot" . I knew we were early, and not to be deterred, we decided to take the hike anyways.
If you are hoping to see a multitude of monarchs, plan your trip for November or later. However since we were visiting for only a week in October, we didnt have that option. In the eucalyptus grove before the actual preserve, we saw a few butterflies fluttering high above us...easy to see against the beautiful blue California skies. As we entered the marked area, we saw maybe 5-10 monarchs at a time in several areas and could only imagine what this must be like during peak season. It must be amazing!
If I ever had the opportunity to return I'd definitely plan it for after November to really enjoy this experience!
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