Grover Beach Butterfly Trees

Grover Beach Butterfly Trees


When sunlight streaks through the towering eucalyptus grove at the border of Pismo and Grover Beach during the months of October through February, sheaths of magnificent monarch butterflies warm and awaken. They fly from as far away as Canada every year to winter in the protective arms of this pocket California State Park. A flat, easily walkable circular path leads in and around the trees. When the temperature rises above 55 degrees the monarchs flutter from their living covering and soar through the air above visitors’ heads. Volunteer docents answer visitor questions and monarch butterfly souvenirs are for sale from a small kiosk in the park. Since 2004, February 5th has been designated as the California Western Monarch Day, sponsored by Sheila Boone, a butterfly advocate and fifth great granddaughter and direct descendant of trail blazer, Daniel Boone.

The tale of the wintering monarch butterflies is a bittersweet one. The generation of the royal visitors that reach the renowned grove are not the ones that will make their way back the following year. Their average life span is only six weeks. But miraculously, monarchs can survive as long as six months during their over wintering in Pismo Beach. The monarchs that leave in March will not live to return in October. Scientists can’t say how the succeeding generation knows how to make the pilgrimage back to the grove in the fall. But they like their ancestors, continue to make that same leap of faith which leads to them layering themselves by the thousands in bundles eight to ten feet long hanging from tall trees in the small, sheltering woods near the ocean in Central California. They are a vivid, colorful, vibrant and returning, natural wonder.

Free parking is available north of the trees in the North Beach Campground. For information and directions, call the Pismo Beach Chamber of Commerce at (805) 773-4382.

Amtrak offers Pacific Surfliner train service to the Grover Beach train station which is in walking distance to the monarch grove. www.amtrakcalifornia.com (800) USA-RAIL

The city of Grover Beach has been transforming itself for a number of years. Once known as Grover City, the name was changed in 1992, to attract visitors by emphasizing its proximity to the ocean. Founded in 1887, the former “Town of Grover,” is part of the Five Cities Metropolitan area, which consists of Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Shell Beach, and Oceano.

Originally part of El Pizmo Rancho, D.W. Grover bought the land to build a community with a hotel and a train station, “the place where the tide lands and the rails meet.” However, the Southern Pacific Railroad constructed the station in the neighboring town of Oceano. Growth of the town was slow and it wasn’t until the 1940’s that Grover City had its first store and post office. The 1950’s brought a prosperity and a land boom. The town was incorporated in 1959 with voting by 1900 registered voters.

The city’s population is now around 13,000, almost twice that of Pismo Beach. Just south of town is the entrance to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, where ATVs are rented to speed across the dunes. This is a very popular attraction and also, can be a quite dangerous activity for those camping in the area. It’s also the only state park in California where cars can drive directly on sand lapped by the Pacific Ocean. The dream of the town’s founder, D.W. Grover, was finally realized in 1996 when Amtrak began rail service at 150 Grand Avenue, with two daily stops on Pacific Coast Highway in Grover Beach. Now it truly is “the place where the tide lands and the rails meet.”




Fair
56°
Fair