Snake Road draws a crowd for bi-annual snake migration

The Shawnee National Forest is home to critters of all sorts

Rattlers, copperheads, cottonmouths, oh my!

You can see hundreds of reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitat when Snake Road closes for the fall and spring each year for migration.

snake roadFor about two months, reptiles and amphibians in the Shawnee National Forest near Wolf Lake will migrate between LaRue Swamp and the nearby limestone bluffs, across a gravel trail known as Snake Road.

The forest service closes a portion of Snake Road bi-annually to make sure these critters can safely cross. Some of the species are considered threatened and endangered.

During migration, vehicle traffic will not be permitted between milepost 3.0 and milepost 5.8.

Of course, foot traffic is still welcome! Snakes, frogs, salamanders, and turtles will move freely around the LaRue-Pine Hills, and this is a great chance to see them.

In fact, the gradual two-month migration attracts people from across the world eager to witness the rich diversity of species along this single stretch of road.

About 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found here.

CAUTION:  Unauthorized collecting and handling of any of these species is prohibited under federal and state law.

To reach Snake Road from Jonesboro: Take Highway 146 west 8 miles to Highway 3; then north 8 miles on Highway 3 to Muddy Levee Road. Then east 3 miles to LaRue Rd., at the ‘T’ turn right into Winters Pond parking lot.  They can also reach this from the south entrance off of LaRue Rd (some people like to walk from here north and turn around part way)

To reach Snake Road from Murphysboro: Take Highway 149 west 7 miles to Highway 3; then south 14 miles on Highway 3 to Muddy Levee Road. Then east 3 miles to LaRue Rd., at the ‘T’ turn right into Winters Pond parking lot.

Timber Rattler

Timber Rattler

Nora Davis, a wildlife photographer who calls Hayti, Missouri home, enjoys capturing snakes on camera. She photographed this Timber Rattler as it embarked on its great migration.

Copperhead

Copperhead

A Copperhead is on the move along Snake Road.

(Source: Nora Davis/Nora Duffy Photography)

Cottonmouth

Cottonmouth

A Cottonmouth shows off its fangs as it makes its trek across Snake Road.

(Source: Nora Davis/Nora Duffy Photography)

Rattler

Rattler

A Timber Rattler is making the great migration in Union County.

(Source: Nora Davis/Nora Duffy Photography)

CLICK HERE to learn more about the 35 snake species native to Illinois that call this natural area home.