Following the Monarch Migration in your RV

Traveling throughout North America in your RV is such a fun and unique experience. Whether you campground hop, visit national parks, or take one big vacation every year, there’s no wrong way to RV. A fun idea for RVing is to travel to a special event or destination. One truly special event to experience is the annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly population. Monarch butterflies are the only butterfly species known to make a two-way migration, similar to birds. Their destinations are referred to as “overwintering locations”. Unlike other species of butterflies, monarchs cannot survive the harsh winters. They follow environmental cues to know when it’s time to head south. 

Have you ever considered using your RV to follow the butterflies and seek a warmer climate with them? Depending on which coast you live on or are traveling on, you could have plenty of options for where to go and witness these gorgeous creatures. If you like to escape the cold, then consider joining the monarchs on their annual trip for warmth, whether it be through Southern California, Mexico, or Florida. Read on as Boondockers Welcome discusses how, where, and when to enjoy this magical migration. 

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When do monarch butterflies migrate?

Beginning in the fall, the North American monarch population begins traveling south to warmer climates, only to return north again in the spring. Some of them travel over 3,000 miles in total! During the summer, the monarch butterflies are breeding over the course of three months. Then, the butterflies begin migrating from August to early October depending on where they choose to spend the winter. You can either choose to make the entire journey with the butterflies or drop off somewhere along the way. Consider including this in your annual vacation to make it extra special. Additionally, you can choose to spend the entire winter with the butterflies or visit with them for a little bit and then head back home. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.

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Where do they go?

The monarch populations do have some interchange between the East and West coast populations, but, for the most part, they remain with their groups. Each region of monarchs have their own preferred regions to spend the winter. While we cannot predict exactly where they will land, there are plenty of researchers who estimate locations and know of the monarchs’ favorite places to spend the winter.

East Coast

The monarch populations on the far East Coast, hailing from New Brunswick down to South Carolina, will typically migrate to southern Florida for the winter. If you have yet to take your RV to Florida for the winter, be sure to book your campground and Boondockers Welcome stays well in advance. Be sure to consider stopping by the three national parks in Southern Florida.

The remaining monarch population from the Smoky Mountains to the Rocky Mountains will migrate down to central Mexico. Surprisingly, we do have both one Boondockers Welcome and one Harvest Hosts location right around where the butterflies will be wintering. Consider searching for campgrounds or dry camping areas in order to enjoy the area longer. 

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West Coast

Monarch butterflies west of the Rockies spend the winter all along the California coast, starting around San Francisco. From there, the butterflies can be found anywhere past Baja California and up until central Mexico’s west coast. The California coast holds so many treasures, with scenic Route 1 spanning the entire coast. There are also numerous national parks tucked away throughout the state, as well as tons of attractions and beaches dotting the coast. 

There are over one hundred Boondockers Welcome locations all throughout California. If you couple your Boondockers Welcome membership with a Harvest Hosts membership, then the overnight opportunities jump up to over three hundred. You may not even need to book a single campground! If you decide to go as far south as San Diego, then there are even more Boondockers Welcome locations to choose from. Be sure to do your research to see where you would like to visit to allow it to coincide with the butterfly migration. 

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With monarch butterflies now being an endangered species, this year could be the best time to journey along with them. Be sure to use your interactive map to find Boondockers Welcome locations along the way and at your destination. You can even input where you’d like to go to see them along your route. If you want even more options, consider adding on a Harvest Hosts membership. You’re sure to have an unforgettable vacation with many amazing memories, new friends, and a newfound love and respect for monarch butterflies.

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Have you crossed paths with the monarch butterfly migration before? Which trip sounds like the most fun: East or West coast? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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