Monarch Butterflies on the California Coast

My husband and I had heard about the monarch butterflies that migrate to Pismo Beach each year and decided to head down there to see them. We thought cruising down Hwy1 would be far nicer than taking the quick route down 101, so we booked some hotels and hit the road. The hotel prices were really high and most rooms were booked for that weekend but we found a Marriott in  the town of Santa Maria right outside of Pismo Beach for less than half the price. We left late Friday night and stayed outside of San Fransisco so we could photograph the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

A picture of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge taken from the Presidio
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
With my FRANKENBUILT Beetle viewing the beautiful coast.

After photographing the bridge we went into the city for some breakfast at Ella’s Diner. The food was average, and the prices seemed typical of San Francisco. My husband then drove us down Highway 1 and I was enjoying the view for a while before I fell asleep only to find myself at the Moss Landing Pick-N-Pull yard! He needed some parts for a car he’s building and figured they might be available there. A little wrenching and we headed to Phil’s Fish Market for an amazingly delicious lunch of Fish & Chips. If you have never eaten at Phil’s, you really need to. It is one of those hidden treasures you will always go back to.

Sunday morning we woke up early and headed  to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. It was an incredible place to see! The first few minutes we didn’t see to many butterflies. We than saw a few people standing off in the distance looking up into the top of the Eucaliptus trees. It looked like several bunches of brown leaves. We then noticed that the bundels were butterflies that had gathered together with their wings closed. It turnes out that butterflies close up their wings when they are cold and when the temperature is warm enough they open up their wings and fly away from the bunch. It was estimated that there were as many as 25,000 monarch butterflies in the grove this year. We had never seen anything like it and thought it was one of the most beautiful things we had ever seen.

Picture of Monarch butterflies resting on a eucalyptus tree.
Monarch butterflies resting on a eucalyptus tree.

After our butterfly adventure we decided to drive out onto Pismo Beach. It is the one of only beaches on the west coast that allows motor vehicles. It costs $5 and gives you an all day pass. If you are ever in the area you should check it out.

Picture on an elephant seal
Elephant Seal

We decided to take our time driving home Monday morning so we could make  frequent stops along the coast. During one of our stops, we pulled over into one turn out and noticed that there were Elephant Seals hanging out on the beach. We came across one that was half way up the hill and about three feed away. He was really cute. It was strange though because a couple decided to walk their dog and stop right in front of him. It got us some great pictures but the dog being nearby irritated him. So if you stop and see the seals please don’t bring your dog. We headed further down the beach and came across a large group of males, females, and their pups sun bathing. We were about 6 feet above them, wich is as close as you would want to get, and got several of great pictures of them. Although they smell really bad, they are definantly a must see and if you are around the area in January. The rest of the cruise up Highway 1 was great! We were greeted by countless beautiful views along the way!

Picture of pelicans in flight
Pelicans in flight