Black Hills Butterfly Fiesta Say Goodbye to Local Visitors

29 Aug
August 29, 2012

True Washingtonians love the last days of summer, because it means that a certain group will be departing the city, leaving it less crowded and more open for locals to enjoy.

However, some things that departure truly will be missed. In fact, this weekend, up in Northern Maryland, there is an entire festival that is dedicated to an annual visitor that is about to flee town for warmer winter weather.

Nearly 40 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., past Germantown, Maryland on I-270, sits Black Hills Regional Park. And this Saturday, September 1st, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., people can come to the park’s visitor’s center, where they will be hosting nature programs and saying goodbye to the largest flock of tourists Washington, D.C. knows.

Yes, it is Black Hills annual Monarch Fiesta Day, which is held late in the summer every year, before Monarch butterflies depart for the winter, not to come back to the area until next spring. Everyone that lives in this area is familiar with Monarch butterflies, from their eye-catching wing patterns, which are bright orange and black. But Monarchs are also well known for their distinctive migratory patterns. They keep habits that would make birds proud, and as summer chills, these insects fly all the way to southern Mexico to spend the winter months in a much more temperate area.

As the locals are sad to see them leave, Black Hills has an entire day to celebrate them. All morning and afternoon guests can take guided tours of the park’s Monarch garden, which contains plants and nectars the butterflies love. The garden’s cultivators will be on hand to answer questions about how they pick certain plants and what they do to attract the butterflies.

There are also educational exhibits dedicated to both the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, from caterpillar to winged creature, as well as a mock migratory path, which will show people the hurdles and obstacles these butterflies encounter when traversing thousands of miles.

Throughout the day, a leading expert on Monarchs and their migratory patterns will be tagging specimens to track through the winter. The expert will demonstrate the process that goes into marking them and explaining what kind of data they will collect.

The entire event is free to all visitors, who can show up any time during the day.

If you can’t make it to Monarch Fiesta Day, though, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Black Hills Regional Park. It’s one of the largest public parks in the area, with over 2,000 acres to its name. Throughout the park are paved hiking and biking trails, as well as unpaved paths for adventurous joggers and mountain bikers.  There are also playgrounds for children and a fenced-in exercise spot for dogs.

The park has numerous green rolling hills, and they all provide spectacular vistas, because the entire park is wrapped around Little Seneca Lake. However, little is a bit of a misnomer. The lake is an emergency reservoir for the Washington, D.C. area, and is over 500 acres in size. The entire park looks down on the lake, and from just about anywhere, visitors can catch a glimpse of the glittering water.

Black Hills Regional Park rents kayaks, canoes and rowboats, so people can take to the water. The reservoir is also stocked with numerous fish, from largemouth bass to catfish.

Whether insects or fish are your passion, or you are looking for a new and beautiful spot to exercise at, Black Hills Regional Park can suffice any outdoor urge.

- David

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