Monarchs in Mexico with Steve Gettle and Nicole Sudduth

Join us for a truly magical adventure as we experience one of nature’s many wonders: being in the midst of millions of Monarch butterflies. The patterns and colors will excite your eyes and the gentle whisper of wings will catch you by surprise.

Only discovered in 1976, this tiny mountain area, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is where millions of Monarchs, almost the entire population on the planet, migrates as many as 3,000 miles to to overwinter. The mystery and magic of the Monarch is strong here, with questions still unanswered about how this tiny creature, weighing less than a paper clip, knows to fly to this one location, a place it has never been before. These are the ancestral forests of the Monarchs.

Photograph huge clusters of Monarchs at rest as they hang heavy on the limbs of Oyamel fir trees. Capture the eruption of orange as the sun hits their wings and thousands of Monarchs fly at once from tree limbs. The future of the entire population lies with these Monarchs and we have timed this trip to coincide with their peak activity as they get ready for their epic journey north.

Over the course of this tour, we will visit three locations, each with a different flavor and offering different photographic opportunities. We will visit the Monarch colonies at different times of the day to photograph in different light and see the different behaviors.

In addition to Steve and Nicole who have been to the sanctuaries multiple times, we are fortunate to have Estella Romero, an Angangueo native and Monarch coordinator from Journey North to join us for this special trip and share her decades of insights and knowledge of the Monarch colonies.

Six weeks in the Smokies as artist-in-residence

Story and photography by Tom Haxby

It was my dream come true to have been the Artist in Residence as a photographer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for six weeks from September through November of 2016. I have been to the park many times and I would never have imagined having this opportunity. My background as a natural resource manager for 26 years along with my passion for photography helped to secure the chance to take photographs for an entire season in one of the most picturesque national parks. For me, it was about more than just taking photos. I wanted to take the time to gain a greater understanding of the park.

Oncoaluftee Watershed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All landscape photos seen in this article were taken with a Nikon D800 and this assortment of lenses: 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. All were on a tripod. © Tom Haxby

Oncoaluftee Watershed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All landscape photos seen in this article were taken with a Nikon D800 and this assortment of lenses: 14-24mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm. All photos were taken on a tripod.
© Tom Haxby

The National Park Service, the Friends of the Smokies and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts sponsor the artist program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Continue reading