If You Want To See Snakes By The Thousands, Tour To Narcisse Snake Dens In Manitoba Is Just The Ticket

The Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba’s Interlake Region offer up a spring spectacle as thousands of red-sided garter snakes emerge from the limestone caves that shelter them from the harsh winters to mate. Thousands of people from around the world flock to the site every spring. (Herald file photo/ Joshua Komer)

If you’re looking to make a road trip to Manitoba to enjoy the great outdoors, a pretty cool reason for heading north is available this coming Sunday, May 6.

Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Center north of Winnipeg is offering a guided tour to the Narcisse Snake Dens from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Located about an hour northeast of Oak Hammock Marsh, the Narcisse Snake Dens draw thousands of visitors from throughout the world every spring to witness the largest gathering of red-sided garter snakes, which winter deep within the limestone before emerging every spring to mate and slither their way across the countryside.

A co-worker and I visited the snake dens last spring to see the slithery spectacle in person. The Narcisse Snake Dens feature four fenced-off pits where the snakes gather and are easily viewable. A series of limestone paths winding through prairie and aspen forest provides an easy hike between the pits.

According to a posting from Oak Hammock Marsh, snake enthusiast Cathy Wasserman will provide a guided tour of the snake dens for Sunday’s event. The interpretive center itself is well-worth the visit.

The guided snake tour costs $12 for members of Oak Hammock Marsh and $20 for nonmembers. There’s no charge to visit the snake dens if you venture out on your own.

With the arrival of warmer weather — finally — the snakes are just beginning to emerge, and small numbers of snakes were visible in two of the four dens as of the most recent update Saturday. Snake activity will increase daily as temperatures rise; warm, sunny days offer the best viewing opportunities.

Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Center is located 30 minutes north of Winnipeg on Provincial Highway 67 between highways 7 and 8.

More information on the guided snake tour is available here. Updates on snake activity at the Narcisse Snake Dens are available here.

Stories on last spring’s visits to Oak Hammock Marsh and the Narcisse Snake Dens are available here and here.