It’s about a 3 hour drive from San Miguel de allende to el Rosario monarch sanctuary in Michoacán . The sanctuary is located at a high altitude of about 10,000 feet.The viewing area is at around 10,000 to 11000 feet. When you arrive you are taken about half way up on horseback. Each is owned and cared for by private individuals and are all very healthy and well kept. They do this ride because of the altitude and to keep the group together , however you can not go all the way by horse as it would disturb the monarchs. When we got off the horses we still had half hour walk uphill. We were told to be silent so as not to disturb the monarchs . There are millions of monarchs in this area. The trees are thick with them and every now and then when the rays of sun shine down it puts hundreds of them into flight. What a sight and what a sound. Like a loud buzzing and humming.
Adult butterflies live for only around a month so and no one butterfly ever makes the entire circular migration from North America to Mexico and back again. Instead, it takes three generations of spring-born butterflies to complete the northern leg of the migration from Mexico back to the US-Canada border. The fourth generation though is a ‘super-generation’, which lives eight to ten times longer than normal. It’s these butterflies which, each autumn, leave the Great Lakes area and fly south to Mexico.
Although monarchs aren’t a threatened species, the future of the migration is in serious doubt. In recent years the numbers arriving in Mexico have fallen dramatically. Most scientists blame pesticide use in the US and the destruction of milkweed, the food plant of monarch caterpillars, for this decline.
One of the biggest mysteries of the migration is why every year the butterflies choose to hibernate in the exact same trees. Scientists remain unsure as to why they do this and, more importantly, how the butterflies know which trees to use because no one butterfly ever makes the migration twice.
Sometimes the monarchs land on you. We must be quiet to not disturb them to much.
This is something I highly recommend if you ever get the chance as the monarchs population is dwindling due to our lack of care for Mother Earth and her inhabitants.