‘Snake Road’ in southern Illinois closes for spring migration

Photo via fs.usda.gov

It’s time yet again for the closure of “Snake Road” in southern Illinois, so snakes and amphibians — some of them threatened or endangered — can safely migrate without getting run over.

Shawnee National Forest’s Snake Road — officially Forest Service Road No. 345 — closes each year for a couple of months in the spring and fall between the limestone bluffs and the LaRue Swamp. The 2.5-mile road is in that migration path, so it’s closed to all vehicles.

In a news release, the U.S. Forest Service says Snake Road will be closed to vehicles from March 15 to May 15. However, the road is open to foot traffic if you want to witness the migration for yourself. The Forest Services says that short stretch of road offers the chance to see a diverse array of not only snakes, but other reptile and amphibian species. “About 66 percent of the amphibians and 59 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found here,” the Forest Service says of snake road during the migration.

If you want to check out reptiles and amphibians on their way to LaRue Swamp for the summer, you should know there are some rules — mainly: do not touch. LaRue-Pine Hills and Otter Pond area — which is in Wolf Lake, Illinois — is a federally designated research natural area, so the forest service says collecting or touching any of the species there is prohibited by federal and state law, whether the species is endangered or not.