Santa Cruz Monarch Butterfly Natural Preserve

Winter is Monarch butterfly season at the Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California.

Monarch Butterfly

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 320, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800

From the visitor center, head down the Monarch Butterfly Boardwalk to reach the Monarch Grove. You will arrive at the viewing platform after a short descent. I wouldn’t even call it a hike.

Monarch Grove

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 640, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800

Bring binoculars for a close-up view of the butterflies.

Santa Cruz Monarch Butterfly

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 640, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/800

Most of my photos were at the 300mm end. If I were to visit this place again, I would definitely use a tripod. Focusing on a small (and sometimes moving) butterfly was a big challenge. A tripod would definitely help reduce camera shake. But, the viewing platform was quite crowded. So, I would return at the beginning or end of the day. This would help out with the lighting as well. The mid-day sun just created too much contrast. Some butterflies were in the shade. Others were in the sun. A total challenge.

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