Where to See the Monarch Butterfly Migration in Asheville
Shortly before fall in Asheville and the Great Smoky Mountains, thousands of Monarch butterflies pass through the Asheville area as they migrate south to Mexico. The butterflies travel more than 2,000 miles on their journey, and we're fortunate that Western North Carolina is right along their route!
When to see Monarch butterflies in Asheville, NC
From the middle of September and continuing for several weeks into October, the monarchs make their way through the Great Smoky Mountains along the high-elevation mountain ridges.
Where to see Monarch butterflies in Asheville
Locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially the Mount Pisgah area and the Black Balsam areas, are great places to spot these beautiful butterflies. The butterflies can often be seen among the flowers and foliage.
Top locations include:
- Wagon Gap Road parking area (Milepost 412.2)
- Pounding Mill Overlook (Milepost 413.2)
- Cherry Cove Overlook (Milepost 415.7)
- Black Balsam summit (Milepost 420.2)
There is a pull off at each of these locations with parking. To reach the Black Balsam summit, you will need to do a short hike on the Art Loeb Trail. See our guide to Black Balsam for more details.
The Orchard at Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway (328.3) is another great place to see the butterflies. The Orchard is committed to preserving natural milkweed, the larval host plant for Monarchs. You'll even find a butterfly garden just steps from the Orchard shop! Each year, the Orchard also raises Monarchs in terraniums in the Orchard shop from egg to larva to chrysalis to butterfly to help support the butterfly population. Six of their tagged butterflies have been found in Mexico!
Monarch butterfly Events in Asheville
Nearly one billion monarch butterflies have vanished since 1990 due to the diminishing milkweed habitat that they rely on. Celebrate the monarch throughout the month of September at the North Carolina Arboretum through a variety of educational programs and events for children and adults alike. On Saturdays, the Arboretum will have a Butterfly Discovery Station at its Willow Pond recreational area along with a month-long butterfly bioblitz where visitors are encouraged to take photos of monarch butterflies they find in the garden and upload them to iNaturalist, which is used for data collection by scientists worldwide.
Header Monarch image courtesy of Hop'n Blueberry Farm.