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Visit the Grove

Monarch butterflies migrate to Goleta each November through February and this amazing sight is best viewed at the Goleta Butterfly Grove. The site is open sunrise to sunset with no admission fee, but the City of Goleta does accept donations to support the Monarch Butterfly Docent Program.  The grove is adjacent to the Sperling Preserve on the Ellwood Mesa. The Ellwood Mesa open space includes 137 acres of natural terrain with designated trails and beach access. There is a portable restroom located at the parking lot.

We recommend wearing sturdy shoes and bring binoculars to maximize your visit.  Please do not visit the grove when it is raining or while the ground is muddy from a recent storm.  Natural trails and rough terrain make it difficult to access by wheelchair.

Directions and Parking

Free parking for the Goleta Butterfly Grove (and the Ellwood Mesa) is available in the lot at the Ellwood Mesa Open Space on Hollister Avenue. This is across from Ellwood Elementary School (7686 Hollister Avenue).  Parking lot GPS coordinates: 34.429018, -119.897017.  The grove is a little over a half mile from the parking lot and butterfly trail markers highlight the path.  Click here for a printable map.


By car: Exit Highway 101 at Hollister Avenue and turn toward the ocean. Turn left onto Hollister Avenue. After .6 miles, turn right at the stoplight for Ellwood School.

By bus: Line 25 has a stop  at Viajero on Hollister Avenue which is near to the parking lot.  Learn more here: MTD website.

Docent Program

The City of Goleta’s Monarch Butterfly Docent Program provides public education opportunities for Goleta Butterfly Grove visitors during the over wintering season. These dedicated volunteer docents facilitate an enhanced visitor experience by providing information about butterfly biology to area visitors, local residents and school groups.

Docents can be found at the Goleta Butterfly Grove from mid-November through mid-February on Saturdays and Sundays (weather permitting) between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Rules of the Grove

The Goleta Butterfly Grove is a wonderful place. To ensure the safety of the monarchs and enjoyment of the public, we ask that visitors please observe the following rules:

Always stay on designated trails and roads.

Stay out of the roped-off areas.

Watch your step when entering and exiting the grove, and avoid monarchs which may be “puddling” in the surrounding areas.

Do not touch or harass the butterflies.

Avoid making loud noises.

Keep dogs on a leash. No bicycles, horses or motorized vehicles in the grove.

Please take your trash out of the grove.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Historical Population in the Grove

Monarch butterfly peak population during seasonal year

What’s Nearby

Camino Real Marketplace is the South Coast’s most diverse shopping center. Located just west of Santa Barbara, the Marketplace offers everything from large retail stores to small convenience stores, services, restaurants and entertainment.

The Coronado Butterfly Preserve is home to native habitat and numerous birds and wildlife. The 9.3-acre preserve includes Devereux Creek, woodlands and meadows as well as trails, an outdoor gathering area and classroom.

Girsh Park is a community recreation area that provides high quality park and recreational facilities in a safe, attractive and healthy environment. The park features baseball fields, basketball courts, a soccer field and picnic area.

“The Historic Heart of our Community” Once a working ranch Rancho La Patera is home to Stow House, the Cavalletto History Education Center, and the Goleta Valley Historical Society.

Built in 1901, the historic Goleta Depot (also known as the South Coast Railroad Museum) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum features a miniature train ride, working railroad communications and signaling equipment, and other hands-on exhibits.