Smoky Mountain Monarch Migration

Don’t miss your chance to track a monarch on it’s 2,500 mile journey to Mexico. Photo credit – Steven Puetzer

Smoky Mountain Monarch Migration is an annual event. Monarch butterflies migrate south each summer and spend their winter hibernating in parts of Southern California and Mexico where the climate is warm year-round. Monarchs living east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Mexico overwintering in Oyamel Fir trees. Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter in Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees. The butterflies return to the same trees each year which is unusual because the same butterfly never makes the trip twice and yet, somehow, the fourth generation of Monarchs find the right tree!  Amazingly this fourth generation migrates over 2,500 miles each year for the perfect hibernation climate and tree.

Monarchs depend on the migration to avoid freezing in winter and to provide food for their larvae and these plants only grow in the northern regions where the butterflies spend their summer. To sustain their population they travel back and forth each year to continue to propagate the species.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont monarch butterfly tagging program is an effort to Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremontmonitor the health of the Monarch population and to track the butterflies progress along their migration route. Each year in late summer and early fall volunteers flock to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains Tagging program. Part of the fun is discovering, months after the event, that the butterfly you tagged was located thousands of miles away.

What could be more fun than running around a sunny field with a butterfly net chasing Monarchs? The tagging outings are open to school groups and individuals. The Institute provides all the equipment needed for tagging Monarchs. There are often more people who want to attend than equipment available, so these days are limited to 18 people (no more than 8 people per party please, to save room for others).  Each party/family may attend one day of tagging in order to give everybody a chance.  Alternatively, if the dates don’t fill up and you’d like another chance to go out, you are most welcome! Remember children under 18 are required to have an adult guardian to accompany them. To sign up visit Cades Cove Monarch Tagging.

Tremont Institute Monarch tagging dates:

September – 12th, 14th, 17th, 20, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, and 28th.

October – 1st, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th, 16th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 24th, 27th, and 30th.

Tagging is fun, easy, and does not harm the Monarch. Photo credit – Betty Hall photography.

The HeySmokies.com team has participated in the Monarch tagging program in years past and can say this event is a lot of fun for the entire family! The event is fun, educational, and interesting in one of the most beautiful valleys in the United States! Plan now to experience this for yourself and come back to the mountains soon.

Bonus tip: Our sister national park the Blue Ridge Parkway has an abundance of places to see Monarch butterflies migrate in person. Most hight elevation spots on the parkway have a good chance to find Monarchs, but specifically Double Top Mountain Overlook at Balsam Gap near the junction of Route 215 is an excellent view spot as well as Doughton Park at Bluff Mountain!

More Hey Smokies Features:

Smoky Mountain Travel Advisory
Smoky Mountain Travel Advisory...
Smoky Mountain Travel Advisory. Smoky Mountain travel advisory. Upcoming Single-Lane Closures on the Spur. Great Smoky Mountains N[Read More >>]
Virtual Synchronous Firefly Event
Virtual Synchronous Firefly Event...
Can't make it to the big Smoky Mountain firefly event? No problem go virtually! Virtual Synchronous firefly event to be held Monday, June 1,[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Fire Ant Invasion...
Fire ants have marched into Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Smoky Mountain Fire Ant Invasion is underway. This small intruder may pose [Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Virtual Campout...
Smoky Mountain virtual campout will be fun for the entire family! Great Smoky Mountains National Park will co-host the National Park Service[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Clingmans Dome Opens...
Clingmans Dome Opens to the public for 2020 season. Clingmans Dome Opens. Clingmans Dome is one of the most popular destinations in the Grea[Read More >>]
No thumbnail available
Smoky Mountain Attractions Open...
Smoky Mountain attractions open after COVID-19 closures. Smoky Mountain attractions open after two months of covid-19 fears. Smoky Mount[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opens
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Opens...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park opens with much anticipation. The Covid-19 virus pandemic forced the closure of Great Smoky Mountain[Read More >>]
Karen Pence Gets Outside Smoky Mountain Style
Karen Pence Gets Outside Smoky Mountain Style...
GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash welcomes dignitariies. Photo credit - GSMNP Karen Pence gets outside Smoky Mountain Style. Second Lady Kar[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe
Smoky Mountain Tamale Recipe...
Smoky Mountain Tamale recipe. Homemade tamales are always a Smoky Mountain special event! Did you know that the Smoky Mountains are on the [Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Phased Opening
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Announces Phased Opening...
Wildlife braces for the return of humans to GSMNP. Photo credit - myvetcandy Great Smoky Mountains National Park announces phased opening. B[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Dandelions
Smoky Mountain Dandelions...
Smoky Mountain dandelions (whose Botanical name is Taraxacum officinale) considered by many to be an obnoxious, stubborn, persistent weed are an[Read More >>]
Merle Fest Virtual Concert
Merle Fest Virtual Concert...
Merle Fest Virtual Concert scheduled. Music fans can view 2012 broadcast of MerleFest from Wilkesboro, NC. this weekend. The current pandemic ca[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled...
Smoky Mountain Synchronous Firefly Event Cancelled. National Park officials announced the cancellation of the popular synchronous firefly ev[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunk
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunk...
Smoky Mountain Eastern Spotted Skunks give fair warning and provide some interesting acrobatics just before sending out a cloud of noxious spra[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash...
Smoky Mountain Plane Crash. National park officials have identified the pilot who survived after making an emergency landing in Great Smoky Moun[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail Mushrooms...
Smoky Mountain Turkey Tail mushrooms are always in season! Trametes versicolor (common name Turkey Tail mushroom) is a decomposing polypore mush[Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon...
Smoky Mountain Pink Moon. The Pink Moon or "Fools Moon" will not be turning pink despite the name. April’s full Moon arrives on Tuesday, April 7[Read More >>]
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories...
Dolly Parton Reads Imagination Library Stories. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to childre[Read More >>]
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground...
Dollywood Cades Cove Expansion Breaks Ground. Smoky Mountain officials announced today the expansion of the popular theme park has begun. The pr[Read More >>]
Native American Fry Bread Recipe
Native American Fry Bread Recipe...
Native American Fry Bread Recipe. This bread has been sustaining Americans for centuries. The simple recipe has been handed down through the ge[Read More >>]