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Have you tried herping in your back yard and been disappointed at the lack of finds? What if I told you there’s a herp hideaway right here in the midwest? And you can take your family there for a fun day of snake scouting.

That’s exactly what you’ll get at Snake Road at LaRue Pine Hills in the Shawnee National Forest, which is located in southern Illinois. In fact, Shawnee National Forest is less than 80 miles from The Tye-Dyed Iguana.

It’s a perfectly doable weekend road trip if you’re in our area. But why would you want to visit Snake Road? Check out these facts about this reptile-filled recreational area.

Snake in woods

It’s a snake migration path

Snake Road has the unique advantage of being located smack-dab between swamp area where snakes live in the summer and rocky bluffs where they go for the winter. That means snakes will pass twice a year over this road to get from one habitat to the other, making it a convenient place for reptile enthusiasts to spot them.

We’re not talking about an off-chance that you may spot a snake if you look real hard. Snakes will literally be slithering over the length of the road at times.

The road is closed during migration periods

In fall and spring, when the migrations happen, Shawnee National Forest closes down this road to traffic. There won’t be any vehicles interfering with your snake spotting during these seasonal shutdowns.

October and April are the busiest months

If you go to Snake Road during a weekend in April or October, you’re going to be amongst a fairly large crowd of other visitors. But those aren’t the only two months that the roads are closed to allow for snake migration and snake viewing.

If you want to skip the crowd, you can typically visit during March, April, or September instead. Don’t worry; you’ll still see plenty of snakes.

Snake on rocky ground

You’ll see a variety of species

There have been at least 56 different snake species spotted in Shawnee National Forest. That gives you a pretty good chance of seeing a few different species while you’re exploring the road.

But if you’re really adventurous, you can also check out the other trails while you’re there. Not all of the snake cross the road in the migration. So you’ll find more variety if you go looking for them rather than waiting for them to cross in front of you.

A word of warning

Any time you’re herping in the wild, you should take precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and the wildlife. In regard to the first, you should be aware that there are venomous cottonmouth snakes on Snake Road, as well as a couple other venomous snake species. Watch out for these, and do not provoke them.

Of course, if you have any respect for these creatures, you shouldn’t be trying to provoke any of them, venomous or not.

None of the snakes are going to attack you unprovoked, so you have nothing to fear as far as safety goes. As long as you leave them be and stick to watching and snapping photos, you’ll have a safe day of field herping.

And of course when it’s off season for snake migrations, you can come check out the species we carry at The Tye-Dyed Iguana.