The Hikes to the Monarch Butterfly Reserves

Monarch Butterflies hibernate between 3100 and 3400 meters (10,000 and 11,000 ft.) above sea level in the mountains of Mexico. Therefore, altitude plays a role while hiking in the area. The air is thinner, the oxygen levels lower and you might feel you are breathing heavier while moving. Some people, especially when you are living at a higher altitude, might not be affected by it. But it is important to take it easy and to observe yourself to avoid feeling mild symptoms of altitude sickness and to acclimatize slowly. The hikes in each one of the three Reserves vary in terms of length, steepness and the place where the butterflies are at the time of our visit. The hiking time required to get to the sites will depend mainly on the level of fitness and most importantly, how each person adapts to altitude. In all the Reserves, horses can be hired to save the longest and steepest part of the walk, but it is necessary to hike the last stretch to get to the butterflies. We will brief you before each hike, so you can decide in which way you want to visit the Reserve.

Read more about each Reserve

Sierra Chincua Reserve

This is the first Reserve we visit. It has the easiest hike.  We will move slower and take several stops along the way. This is the perfect way to acclimatize to the altitude. Depending on where the butterflies decided to hang out, it might have a short steep part towards the end. The hike is about 3 km (1,86 miles) starts at 3250 m (10660 ft) and you will gain in total about 250 m (820 ft). Horses are available to save some the first part of the hike.

El Rosario Reserve

This Reserve was the first one to be opened and provides the best infrastructure to receive visitors. The first part of the trail is the steepest but it has steps, so it easier to walk. You also have the option to take horses to avoid this part. You start at 3000 m. (10,000 ft.) and might get up to 3400 m. (11,150 ft.). In total you will walk around 3 km (1,86miles).

Piedra Herrada Reserve

This hike starts at 2.800 m (9.200 ft.) and takes you up to around 3.200 (10.500ft.). By the time we visit this Reserve your body will have already adjusted better to the altitude and the acclimation process will help you a lot while hiking up the mountain. Obviously, you have the opportunity to hire a horse for most of the way. Nevertheless, the last 200 -400 meters (depending on the exact locations of the butterflies by the time of visit) will be on foot.




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