We departed our luxurious hotel Casa Grande for a day in the central Mexican highlands, "hunting" butterflies. Mexico's Monarch butterfly preserve straddles the border between the provinces of Michoacan and Mexico. There are only three areas open to public access, and we went to the biggest area, El Rosario, some 2.5 bus hours away. The oyamel forest they like is up at 10,000' elevation, so the best way to access their winter habitat is by horseback, so 14 of us did just that. Our eco-guide, Orlando, led us through the forest and watched, amused, as we stopped to photograph a lone Monarch on the trail. He smiled: just wait! A few more turns in the trail and we were in the midst of tens (hundreds?) of thousands of Monarchs. They posed for us, they landed on us, they covered the ground (so you had to tread carefully), they mated on Ed's pant leg, they suckled nectar from the wildflowers, they convened on trees by the thousands, and well, they basically just dazzled us with their magic, their plight, their mysterious migration, the sound of their gentle wing flaps, their beauty. Another day in Mexican paradise!
Cat Herder (aka Marisa) has been guiding pilot tours in the American West for over twenty years. Keep tabs on your Parkwest pilot friends, National Park news and other tidbits here!