When Should I Visit?

Anytime. It’s beautiful here. There are always birds to admire, green mountain vistas to experience, forest trails to hike, meals to be made and savored, and glorious sunsets to watch.

Of course, most people want to come when there are monarchs roosting in the mountains above us. Even more people want to come during what they’ve been told is the “peak” of the monarch season, from mid-February until mid-March. So much so that we book out months in advance for these few weeks a year and have to turn people away, while if you came at almost any other time, you could practically have the place to yourself.

This overbooking stems from the notion that you’ll see more monarch activity when it’s warmer and the monarchs start to mate and fly about more. But these generalizations about weather patterns and monarch behavior no longer apply. It’s kind of alarming, but after five years of intensive monarch watching since we began this business, we’ve seen all kinds of monarch performances all across the season. We’ve seen mating and explosions in November as well as rainy days and semi-hibernation during the February “dry season.”

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Skies over Cerro Pelon on November 30, 2016. Photo by Forest Ranger Patricio Moreno.

The rule of thumb that monarchs are less active earlier in the season and more active later in the season no longer holds, because average temperatures no longer hold. The world is getting inexorably warmer, and in response the monarchs are getting more active across their entire stay in Mexico.

Erratic weather means that maintaining a thick forest cover to protect the monarch colony is more important than ever. But as long as there are almost no jobs in our community, people will keep cutting trees so that they can feed their families. As it is, the income that tourism provides really reduces logging during the peak of the butterfly season, when we can steadily employ our neighbors as guides, horse handlers and taxi drivers. But help us out, because there are only so many visitors that our small business can (or should) handle over the course of a few weeks a year. Consider coming to see us in November, December or January, when the monarchs are just as likely to be just as glorious.

Or think about paying Macheros a visit during the off-season. You can always take a cooking class, a cottage industry tour, a guided hike, horseback riding, or just a rustic respite from your undoubtedly way more urban lifestyle.