Snake Road is a unique ecosystem in the Shawnee National Forest of southern Illinois that consists of towering limestone bluffs bordered by hardwood forest and buttonwood swamps. A narrow gravel road parallels the bluffs at their base. So many snakes cross the road on their way to and from their hibernaculums in the bluffs that the US Forest Service closes the road for two months in the spring and fall to protect the snakes from vehicles. The 2.5-mile closed section is open to foot traffic, and herpetologists and field herpers flock to the area to observe the phenomenon. Veterinarian, herpetologist and wildlife photographer Stephen Barten will share the whys, hows and thrills of the experience, which also includes bird and other animal sightings.
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