Snake Road closes for fall migration

Forest Service Road No. 345 in the Shawnee National Forest, known as Snake Road, is closed...
Forest Service Road No. 345 in the Shawnee National Forest, known as Snake Road, is closed September 1 through October 30 so that species of snakes and amphibians can safely cross the 2.7-mile-long road.(Shawnee National Forest Service)
Published: Sep. 1, 2022 at 7:24 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2022 at 7:33 AM CDT
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WOLF LAKE, Ill. (KFVS) - Snake Road in the Shawnee National Forest is closed for fall migration.

Forest Service Road No. 345, known as Snake Road, is closed September 1 through October 30 so that species of snakes and amphibians can safely cross the 2.7-mile-long road.

The road closes bi-annually for their migration to and from their summer and winter habitats. In the summer, they live in LaRue Swamp and in the winter they live in the limestone bluffs.

According to the forest service, sometimes the closure periods are extended due to weather.

While the road is closed to vehicles, it is open to people traveling on foot.

According to Forest Service wildlife biologist, Mark Vukovich, “The road closure is very important in maintaining the healthy population that exists there. Three species are listed as threatened in the state of Illinois. Twenty-three species of snakes have been documented in this area and it’s among the only areas in the U.S. to see so many different species in a small geographical area.”

Snake Road in the Shawnee National Forest is closed bi-annually for reptile and amphibian migrations. (Source: Shawnee National Forest)

The forest service says gradual, two-month snake movement attracts people from across the country eager to see the different reptile and amphibian species along this single stretch of road. About 57 percent of the amphibians and 56 percent of the reptiles known to occur in Illinois are found here.

Snake Road is located within the federally designated LaRue-Pine Hills/Otter Pond Research Natural Area.

The following special regulations apply on Snake Road and the entire Research Natural Area throughout the year:

  • Unauthorized collecting and handling of any animal species is prohibited
  • No collecting of any kind; Including plants or animals
  • No tongs, hooks, bags or containers of any kind

To further protect the animals and their habitats visitors should also:

  • Stay on Snake Road and do not create trails
  • Don’t damage vegetation or pick wildflowers
  • Carefully replace rocks or logs if lifted. Better yet don’t disturb at all
  • Do not harass or corral wildlife – Watch nature from a distance
  • Pack out their garbage and dispose of it off national forest land

“We want people to care enough to protect the area and share it responsibly, knowing that their actions make a difference,” Vukovich said in a release from the forest service.

For more information about LaRue-Pine Hills Research National Area visit Shawnee National Forest website www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee.