On our recent Monarch Butterfly and Magical Cities trip to Mexico, we visited two reserves in Mexico State. Piedra Herrada Sanctuary was the first and El Capulin the second. Located less than two hours west of Mexico City, Piedra Herrada is easily accessed in a day trip.

We left our Santa Fe hotel at 8:15 am and were on the trail in search of monarchs by 10:30 am. Every time we visit Piedra Herrada, the monarch butterfly aggregation sites differ. Because the distance to reach the monarchs on this trip was further than in years past, the group opted to ride by horseback most of the way. It would’ve been possible to hike out and back, but we wanted to limit our time at the reserve to four hours. Travel by horse took 40 minutes and then we hiked another 20 minutes to the aggregation sites at an elevation just over 10,000 feet. Below are several photos and a video taken at Piedra Herrada on February 4, 2016.

What You Need To Know Before You Go

  • Monarch Butterfly Season in Mexico: November through March.
  • Best Time to Visit: January through March. Later in the season, the monarchs tend to move to lower elevations and engage in mating flights, especially on warm, sunny days.
  • Piedra Herrada Entrance Fee: 50 MXN per person
  • Parking: 10 MXN per vehicle
  • Horse rental: 200 MXN per horse. A local ejido resident and the horse’s owner will accompany you along the trail.
  • Local guide: 400 MXN per guide. It is mandatory to hire a local guide from the nearby ejido. The guides do not speak English so if you need a translator, plan ahead.
  • Be prepared for a moderately challenging hike. The terrain is steep, uneven and at high elevation.

Are you thinking of a trip to Mexico to see monarch butterflies? If so, contact one of our Mexico destination specialists for insider tips and travel planning ideas.

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