Morelia and the Monarch Butterfly Migration

Days: 7

Please inquire

Discover Morelia and witness the natural phenomenon of the Monarch Butterfly migration while also getting to visit  several charming nearby towns.

Monarch Butterflies Morelia Every winter, millions and perhaps over a billion monarch butterflies arrive in the forests of Michoacán. Although it is unclear how these magnificent creatures find their way to unseen but somehow favored patches of rural Mexico, these spectacular gatherings have generated tremendous interest from ecologists, naturalists and conservationists the world over. The journey detailed below affords travelers the extraordinary experiences of joining the Monarchs at Mexico´s butterfly reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and additionally of learning about a variety of historical and cultural features that are unique to the region. As the sun illuminates the millions of orange and black wings, you’ll quickly understand why this is a trip of a lifetime.

Explore beautiful Morelia and Patzcuaro cities, venture to outlying areas, and witness the work of local artisans and pre-Hispanic engineers. Patzcuaro is a cultural and artisan center for the State of Michoacan that is sure to take your breath away. Beyond the protected butterfly forests, expert guides will help travelers gain insight into the complex character of Michoacán that may ultimately draw them back through the years ahead.


El Rosario Sanctuary – Be amazed by the wintering grounds home to millions of Monarch Butterflies

Butterfly Biosphere Reserves – Visit other butterfly sanctuaries to which millions of Monarchs migrate each year

Morelia – Tour Michoacan’s UNESCO World Heritage City and its beautifully maintained and restored colonial architecture

Patzcuaro – Visit this Magic Town, in the charming highlands of Michoacan and its lake district with surrounding artisan communities  and local Purepecha communities with traditional food and customs

Santa Clara del Cobre – Discover the hidden charms in this Magical Town which has many copper workshops


Dates & Prices


This trip can be customized for a private journey November through March.


Our custom-tailored journeys start from $600 USD per day for two travelers. Contact us today to discuss your travel desires and design a personalized proposal with exact pricing.

Important: This is a sample itinerary. At the time of quoting with a Journey Mexico specialist, there may be changes due to product updates, route accessibility, and seasonal changes.

Customizable Itinerary

Day 1

Arrival to Morelia
After you pass through customs at the Morelia International Airport, your guide will welcome you to one of Mexico’s most endearing urban centers, the capital of Michoacán. Relax before the next day’s travel onward to Rancho San Cayetano, gateway to the Monarch Biosphere Reserve. *Travelers may opt for a Mexico City Arrival

Day 2

After breakfast in Morelia, you will journey toward the rugged and verdant winter home of the brilliantly-colored Monarch Butterfly. Spend the night outside the reserve and prepare for two days of exploration among the migrating Monarchs.

Day 3

El Rosario Sanctuary
This morning your guide will drive you approximately 35 minutes to the first sanctuary. Upon arrival in El Rosario, you will leave the vehicle behind to walk a groomed but at times fairly steep trail into the oyamel fir tree forest favored by the butterflies. As you continue along the trail, note how the forest thickens toward on approach to the destination you share today with 60 million to more than a billion butterflies congregating in the forest after eight months and four generations of migration. The sun warms and lights their wings to reward visitors with a unique and remarkable display of light and color. Your expert guide will ensure that you experience this unparalleled and mysterious phenomenon as more than simply an extraordinary spectacle; we pause to discuss ecology, natural history and conservation issues in the sanctuary.

Day 4

Butterfly Biosphere Reserves
After breakfast this morning, you will board your private vehicle for a visit to another butterfly biosphere reserve (reserves are selected based on butterfly concentration and are therefore subject to change). In many locations, you will have the option to ride horseback (or walk if you prefer) to reach the point where you can view phenomenal butterfly gatherings. In the quiet of the forest, you can hear the beating wings of these delicate creatures. Enjoy a picnic lunch in a nearby forested location. After lunch, you may decide to return into the reserve or explore another depending on local conditions.

Day 5

Morelia and Patzcuaro
Today, you will depart from the butterfly gateway of Zitacuaro and head toward the cultural and artisan center of Pátzcuaro, a Mexican Magic Town. En route, you will have an opportunity to visit Morelia and take a half-day tour of the city, visiting the central square and seeing masterfully restored 17th and 18th century colonial mansions before continuing to Pátzcuaro, your home base for the next three nights.

Day 6

Tzintzuntzan and Santa Clara del Cobre
Today you will visit one of the lesser-visited archaeological zones in Mexico, the lakeside Tarascan site of Tzintzuntzan, to marvel at the unique oval-shaped Yácata temples. After lunch, travel to Santa Clara del Cobre, a Mexican Magic Town and former copper mining town where artisanal methods continue to thrive. You will observe copper-smithing and have the opportunity to see exquisitely crafted pieces that have gained local artists recognition as far away as New York, Paris and London.

Day 7

Departure from Morelia
After breakfast in Patzcuaro, your driver will meet you for a private transfer to the airport.


“It was an experience completely outside of what we viewed as a stereotypical trip to Mexico. Michoacan was far from the tourist-heavy beach scene and had beautiful small towns and gorgeous landscape.  I was amazed at how quickly the landscape changed to natural beauty as soon we got outside of Mexico City. The highlight were the butterfly preserves. I will never forget riding horseback up the steep trails with my kids (3 & 5) into the mountains. At 10,000 feet elevation we were surrounded by fluttering wings with no one else there. There was one couple leaving as we arrived and that was about it.  We had a magical place to ourselves.

Our guide Alfredo had prepped us with the history of how the monarch butterflies migration was finally discovered and the importance of the area.  While in the preserve itself he taught the kids how to pick-up a butterfly without hurting it, and how to tell a male from a female. They loved it and it was great to have someone so attentive to our own interests as well as our small children. He even chose our lunch spot one day because it had a pond in the back patio where the kids could net some live fish.  That attention to detail added a lot to every excursion.

As for the travel company Journey Mexico, they had everything perfectly arranged. Housing and tour choices were safe, and well-thought out with warm welcoming places to hole up in after a busy day. We felt we could relax and reflect after a busy day. The hotel Zitacura in particular stood out with lush gardens, great food, and plenty of space for all of us to get a good nights sleep. Journey Mexico was also respectful of the fact we were traveling with small children and took that into account in the itinerary.

Alfredo and all of their guides were intelligent, personable, and completely professional. The company obviously took pride in knowing the country and it’s regions inside and out–with special focus on cultural, educational, and natural beauty in the lesser traveled regions of Mexico. All of their guides were aligned to that mission.  I liked that the guides were attentive to your needs–not just blathering out facts at us, but listening to us, gauging what we were interested in, and answering questions when we had them. Like any good teacher (my husband is an educator and payed attention to this) they listened as much as they spoke. Alfredo was a fantastic, attentive teacher who loved his country and had a passion for the history and the culture, and liked sharing it with people who were genuinely interested. He even gave my husband a CD by a local Michoaca’n musician that my husband had enjoyed.

– Carolyn, November 2012

Have you traveled on this trip before? If so, please send your testimonial to [email protected]


Palacio Nacional Mexico CIty


El Rosario Sanctuary

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies

Tzintzuntzan Ruins

Santa Clara del Cobre

Morelia Palacio Gobierno
Palacio Gobierno Morelia City
Morelia Nature Zitacuaro
El Rosario Sanctuary Monarch Butterflies
Butterfly Migration
Morelia Migration of Butterflies
Culture Ruins Morelia
Michoacan Magic Town
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