Monarch Butterfly Reserve at Michoacán, Mexico

Ever since my first trip to Morelia, I was obsessed with the idea of returning to the state of Michoacán to see the Monarch butterfly reserves. When many people think of Mexico, they imagine Cabos San Lucas or the Riviera Maya. But Central Mexico actually has a rugged beauty full of landscapes, history, and authentic culture. One of the most unique features that central Mexico has to offer is the migration of the Monarch butterflies to their mountain forests. No one knows exactly why the Monarchs come to these forests, but every winter millions of butterflies migrate from the US and Canada to the state of Michoacán to rest and reproduce in Mexico. Because the Monarch population peaks in January-February, I decided to make this trip a very special Valentine ’s Day present for my love and soul mate, Josh. After arriving, we toured around Mexico City and drove to the beautiful butterfly reserve in Angangueo, Michoacan. We stayed at a lovely Inn the night before our excursion and spent the night eating home-cooked Mexican food and drinking Tequila…lots of Tequila. : )

The morning of our excursion we woke up bright and early to ascend the mountain. Some opted to ride a burro, rather than hike. However, in true Josh and Shelley fashion, we excitedly ran up the mountain anxious to see the butterflies! The hike was moderately long and strenuous, though the altitude made the hike seem harder than it was. When we reached the top, all that hard work was totally worth it. Millions of butterflies covered the trees like leaves, since it was still too cold for the butterflies to fly. But within an hour or two, the air warmed and the butterflies came to life! It was the most magical thing I have ever experienced. The butterflies swarmed all around us, landing on us, and coasting above under the hot morning sun. Josh and I went crazy taking pictures. We were in absolute heaven.

After spending a few hours, it was time to get a bite to eat at a little restaurant at the reserve’s entrance. I still feel euphoric every time I relive the memories on that mountain. On the drive back, we followed a truck full of lumber down the road. The sad truth is that many of the trees that these butterflies seek refuge in are being cut down. Global climate change has also caused the butterfly numbers to dwindle year after year. My best recommendation is to try to get out and enjoy this natural wonder while it is still around. Thank you for reading and happy travels! ~ Shelley and Josh Hartman, Mexico Destination Wedding Photographers

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