Chasing the Monarch
Shortly before Mother Nature rolls out her annual show of autumn, an equally impressive rite of fall takes place in the mountains just outside of Asheville: the passing of thousands of migrating monarch butterflies winging their way to Mexico.
Tour a Butterfly House
In the heart of Black Mountain you'll find Hop'n Blueberry Farm. They not only grow delicious hops for our local breweries, but they also do an annual Monarch release from their Butterfly House. Visit the farm during the month of October for the big release and visit anytime for a lesson in butterfly migration patterns.
Follow the Path
From the middle of September and continuing for several weeks, the monarchs make their way through the Great Smoky Mountains at Wagon Road Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway, about 35 minutes south of Asheville. According to Parkway officials, the altitudes at which the monarchs fly make it difficult to experience the migration anywhere else along their flight to the Mexican border. At over 5,000 feet, Wagon Road Gap serves as the perfect lookout point for the butterflies which can often be seen in profusion alighting on flowers and foliage near this Parkway overlook in September.
How You Can Help
Nearly one billion monarch butterflies have vanished since 1990 due to the diminishing milkweed habitat that they rely on. Join the North Carolina Arboretum as they host the Second Annual Monarch Butterfly Day September 17th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Events include a monarch butterfly tag and release, a milkweed plant sale, children's activities, displays and more.
Header Monarch image courtesy of Hop'n Blueberry Farm.