Every spring thousands of garter snakes start to emerge from their dens near a small Manitoba town called Narcisse.
Update May 9, 2020
CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC: To respect social distancing and to limit the size of group gatherings, the Narcisse Snake Dens are closed to the public until further notice. Learn more at https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/fish_and_wildlife/snakes_narcisse/index.html
What is it?
Essentially it’s a big long trail with several snake ‘dens’ along the way. In the spring and fall garter snakes come here to mate or hibernate and gather in big writhing piles in the dens! You can see the big bundles of snakes at the dens but also in and around the dens in the grass or trees.
There are bathrooms at various points in the trails. Kids can try to spot snakes in the grass and you can pick them up if you are careful and quick (but be gentle!). They kind of stink so bring some hand sanitizer. Ask an interpreter for help or more information about the dens. You can also visit for a period in fall when the snakes start to return to the dens. The density of snakes is a bit more sparse/spread out at that time – spring is usually when you will see the most snakes in one place.
Good to know:
Think of it like a hike – dress appropriately, bring a wagon or stroller for young ones and a picnic or snacks. You will be in full sun along the way so consider a hat and sunscreen. It can get very busy in the spring so don’t be surprised to find a full parking lot on the weekends in during peak spring viewing times. You may have to park alongside the highway in this case so remember to be safe and have a plan to wrangle your kids.
We arrived around 10:30 am and there was lots of room in the lot. By noon the cars were lined along the highway (on a weekend day). Warmer mid-day viewing may be better but the trade off is the parking situation.
If you are driving from Winnipeg there are stores and stops along the way in some of the towns. If you go in later May, there is a cute little park Norris Lake Provincial Park, that makes a great stop to picnic, let the kids roam a bit and have a bathroom break (outhouses). Take the boat launch loop (right) and you will loop around to parking right at the beach in front of the lake. Teulon Elementary also has a great playground area where the kids can run and an ice cream shop is nearby.
It’s about one hour and twenty five minutes to drive from Winnipeg on Highway 17 which branches off of Highway 7 at Teulon.