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Monarch Butterflies in Ellwood - Santa Barbara County

Susan Helene Kramer


If you have a chance to visit the south coast of California during November to February, celebrate the monarch butterflies in residence. They are at the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Grove and Preserve on Coronado Drive in Goleta.


My husband took this photo of the clusters of monarchs hanging off the eucalyptus trees on a visit with our family on my birthday at the end of December. As you can see the monarchs were enjoying their over-wintering at this time.


The preserve is open to the public during hours of sunlight and is free of charge, but will accept donations via an on-site donation box. The preserve is very near the Pacific Ocean. In fact, if you walk up the little hill from Coronado Drive and down into the gully you’ll be immersed in monarchs.


Walk up another hill out of the trees toward the ocean, then across a broad expanse of flat land riddled with ditches, and you’ll be on a cliff top overlooking the Pacific. If you have a toddler along, wear a pack that will hold the child, as some of the terrain between the butterflies and the ocean is rough or rutted.


Looking out over the ocean, the view from the top of the cliff is breathtaking - on a clear day you can view the Channel Islands. Santa Cruz Island is 25 miles off the mainland coast. The Channel Islands help create the mini-climate of the south coast.


This stretch of beach is called the south coast because it runs west to east, facing south, turning from west-facing at Pt. Conception near Vandenberg Air Force Base. By the time you drive south to Los Angeles the coast is again west-facing.


To reach the grove, if you’re driving on Rt. 101 from Santa Barbara, take the Storke Road exit toward the ocean to where it crosses Hollister Avenue at the corner of Camino Real Shopping Center. Bear right onto Hollister Avenue, drive past the shopping center, and just past the 7-11 convenience store on the left, take the left hand turn onto Coronado Drive - which is also the entrance to Santa Barbara Shores sub-division.


Go straight down the incline to the end of Coronado Drive and park. You are facing the direction of the ocean. The path up the sand hill to your right is the entrance to the monarch butterfly preserve. On your hike enjoy the smells of eucalyptus and the sights of the monarchs - you’ll never forget this little enchanted forest.


Rand McNally Road Atlas for driving routes in California and the United States, Canada and Mexico


Article by Susan Helene Kramer; photo credit in the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Preserve by Stan Schaap

Copyright 2012-2015 Susan Helene Kramer
Santa Barbara, California USA
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Published by Creations in Consciousness
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page created May 4, 2013