We're alive with snakes. It's here in the Interlake area that you can see more snakes at a glance than anywhere else in the world. For two brief periods each year tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes congregate at the surface of their winter dens. Beginning with the first few warm days of spring, garter snakes emerge from these dens and gather in large numbers to perform a fascinating mating ritual. Following a two to three week frenzy of mating activity, snakes disperse to nearby marshes for the summer. By early fall they return to their dens, wintering in fissures and crevasses of the limestone bedrock below the frozen ground.
Just look for the Narcisse Snake Dens sign on Highway #17, 6 kilometres (3.6) north of Narcisse. Turn east at the entrance sign and follow the short road to the parking lot. Here you will find orientation and interpretive signs, washrooms, a picnic area and a 3.0 kilmetre (1.8 mile) walking trail. The trail winds through native grassland and aspen forest, and is easy to follow. Winnipegers should allow approximately one and a half hours to cover the 130 kilometre (78 miles) trip to the Narcisse Snake Dens. [ Location Map ]
The activity level of the snake dens is posted every few days during the spring and fall. Check the status when planning your trip to Narcisse.
Spring: The latter part of April and first three weeks in May is generally the best time to visit the Narcisse Snake Dens. During this period snakes are preoccupied with mating and are easily viewed by visitors. The greatest activity tends to coincide with the Mother's Day weekend.
Fall: Garter snakes return to their dens in early September. Once there, they remain active and visible to visitors until cool, wet autumn weather forces them underground. Fall viewing of snakes is best during warm sunny days.
It's always a good idea to have a cap and windbreaker with you. The trails are covered with crushed limestone, so comfortable hiking boots or a sturdy pair of running shoes are all you need.
You may wish to bring your own beverages and a light snack. As you will likely spend anywhere from one to two hours in the area, and cover a fair bit of ground, chances are you'll work up a thirst and appetite. Be sure to bring a camera and a pair of binoculars for close up snake viewing and bird watching.
Please park in the main lot. Only authorized vehicles operated by Manitoba Conservation staff are allowed beyond the parking lot.
Access into the dens and adjacent buffer zones is prohibited for both the safety of visitors and the well-being of the snakes. Viewing platforms at each den site provide a convenient location of watching the action.
The Narcisse Snake Dens is managed by Manitoba Conservation with the assistance and valuable input of the Narcisse Snake Management Advisory Group. The Narcisse Snake Management Advisory Group consists of representatives from the local community, wildlife advocacy groups, a regional tourism agency and various levels of government.