The Shawnee National Forest is home to critters of all sorts
The snakes are on the move! For about two months (in the spring and in the fall), reptiles and amphibians in the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois will migrate from limestone bluffs across what’s known as Snake Road, to nearby LaRue Swamp.
The forest service closes a portion of Snake Road each spring to make sure these critters, some of which are considered threatened and endangered, can safely cross.
- Related: How to identify venomous snakes
That means you won’t be able to drive between mile post 3.0 and mile post 5.8 between March 15 and May 15.
But foot traffic is welcome! In fact, the migration event attracts people from across the country eager to witness the rich diversity of reptile and amphibian 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.
Wildlife biologists say cottonmouths are the most common snake seen during this migration. But you might also see various frogs, salamanders, turtles, and other snakes.
And don’t worry. If you missed the spring migration, you can circle back in the fall. The road is closed to cars Sept. 1 – Oct. 30 in the autumn season.
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.