Monarch Butterflies Return to Monterey Bay

Monarch Butterflies (1/16/06)
Monarch Butterflies (1/15/06) © John Poimiroo

The seasonal show of fall color in California is not limited to falling leaves.  Every autumn, beautiful orange and black Monarch butterflies return to the Monterey Bay area to mate.  One of the best places to see the display is at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz.  Jodi Apelt of the California State Parks reports that on every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. through Feb. 14 (or until the migratory Monarchs depart), Monarch Butterfly Tours will occur.  Natural Bridges is located at the end of West Cliff Drive.   To know that the Monarchs are there when you plan to visit, call (831) 423-4609 in advance.

Monarch Butterfly (1/16/06)
Male Monarch Butterfly (1/15/06) © John Poimiroo

Other colorful California State parks fall events in the Santa Cruz area include a program on Mushrooms of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Nov. 7 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Ranche del Oso Nature and History Center near Waddell Creek Bridge (16 mi. north of Santa Cruz off CA-1).  A mushroom taxonomist will describe where to find them, how to be sure they’re “the right ones,” and tips on gourmet preparation of wild mushrooms.

On the Sunday of the Thanksgiving Day Weekend (Nov. 29), a “Creeping Forest Ramble” will leave at noon from Park Headquarters at Big Basin Redwoods State Park.  Docent Doreen Devorah will lead a three-hour, 2.5 mi hike up and down the “creeping” terrain, along creeks, through fire-scarred redwoods and over log bridges.   Bring water, a snack and good hiking shoes.

Photo Credit: © 2006, John Poimiroo