The final weekend of 2012 brought a rare treat: a thick blanket of snow combined with days off to enjoy it. These snowstorms are few and far between, but the next time we get a quality snowfall, I recommend visiting the Snake Road at LaRue/Pine Hills in Southern Illinois.
In wintertime, the beauty of the Snake Road is that it is 100% free of migrating snakes. Herpetologists might see this as a disadvantage; the rest of us can enjoy the shortage of slithering serpent surprises along the road.
The Snake Road is filled with plenty of other surprises that don't involve reptiles. Take, for example, the natural arch that towers immediately above the road.
As I described in a past blog, this rock formation is known as the Preacher's Eye. Despite standing next to the road, it can be difficult to spot. The best option is to plug in the coordinates 37.5547717, -89.4403716 into a GPS device.
To the north of the arch, the road carefully skirts around a spring-fed pool of water at the base of a bluff. This is a spectacular scene in any season, but a dash of snow makes it even more photogenic.
Water seeping through the limestone bluffs produces another photo-worthy sight: thousands of icicle daggers.
Of course, the most photographed location is the vertical wall which looms above the junction at Inspiration Point. The name is accurate: this place is an inspiration from any angle, whether seen from the roads below or from the precarious lookout above.
Fresh snow helps to accentuate every ledge, nook, cranny, and snake pit in the rocks. This is even more evident when seen from Highway 3 in the distance. Notice the different layers of rock outcrops along the hillside.
If we do receive another snowfall this winter, and the roads are passable, then consider a drive along the Snake Road to explore this snake-less winter wonderland.
From Cape Girardeau, cross the Emerson Bridge and turn left on Highway 3. Continue through McClure, Ware, and Wolf Lake. After going two miles past Wolf Lake, look for the sign announcing "La Rue Ecological Area." Turn right here on Larue Road. Continue on this gravel road across the railroad tracks and to the gate at the beginning of the Snake Road. Keep in mind that the road is closed to traffic during the spring and fall for the snake migrations.