35 snake species native to Illinois call this natural area home

The bio-diversity at LaRue-Pine Hills can't be found anywhere else in the country.

You can easily say hello to Mother Nature at LaRue-Pine Hills.

(Source: Nora Davis)

It is a natural area tucked within the Shawnee National Forest located just outside of Wolf Lake, Illinois.

LaRue-Pine Hills is most famous for the great migration across Snake Road.

A portion of this road is closed every spring and fall to help protect thousands of reptiles and amphibians as they make their way between summer and winter habitats.

Inside this natural area, you’ll find about 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois.

We’re talking about 35 species of snakes that slither around including cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and copperheads.

The big question: why here?

It has a lot to do with the combination of the 150-foot limestone bluffs that stand right next to a swamp.

During the winter, the bluffs make for perfect winter dens, and when it heats up, reptiles and amphibians can move to the feeding grounds in the swamp.

In all, the area covers about 4.5 square miles and contains 14 natural communities including forests, wetland, prairie, glade and barren ecosystems and geologic features.

How to enjoy it all:

  • Take a hike. You can stroll along Snake Road, or trek the Inspiration, Godwin or White Pine trails.
  • Spot a bird or two. About 173 species of bird call the LaRue-Pine Hills area home. There are four marked observation points across the area.
  • Pitch a tent and stay a night. Spend your entire Heartland Weekend at the Pine Hills Campground.

CLICK HERE to map out your visit.