Manitobans love a good roadtrip. We have plenty of reasons to be uncharacteristically boastful about our province. From lush boreal forests to sand dunes – there are adventures for every travel appetite.

Narcisse sign
Narcisse Snake Dens Entry Sign

So that’s why – this past Mother’s Day – we decided to go visit a few thousand garter snakes. Loaded up with appropriate footwear and sunflower seeds, we set out on our day trip. It was obvious that we were soon approaching our destination when the custom fencing appeared along the roadside ditches. Black mesh barriers hug the ground along the highway, providing a vital safety function for garter snakes. The little reptiles don’t stand a chance when matched against a minivan.

Mesh protective fencing to keep the snakes safe from traffic.
Mesh protective fencing to keep the snakes safe from traffic.

Located 170km from Winnipeg, the small town of Narcisse welcomes crowds of inquisitive visitors. Upon entering the site, a volunteer or interpreter advises on proper behaviour. How to pick up a snake, how to deal with “musking”, etc. Harmless, by just as smelly as it sounds.

Receiving instructions from a volunteer.
Receiving instructions from a volunteer.

Following the crushed limestone pathways will lead to separate dens of snake activity. At each den, there is decking and protective rails. Down below is a sight not soon forgotten. But more than seeing the snakes, hearing the snakes is incredible. The sound can best be described as rustling leaves. It can either provide a zen-like calming effect or be like nails-on-a-chalkboard.

Not for the squeamish...
Not for the squeamish…

Walking from one den to another, dusty paths travel through dry grassy fields. It’s often hard to decipher a snake from a long blade of grass. Until it starts to move…

This adventurer was caught climbing up some dry branches.
This adventurer was caught climbing up some dry branches.

Visitors are encouraged to (gently) handle the snakes as a means of furthering education of the species. Naturally, this quickly leads to delighted children and disgusted mothers.

Over recent years, this site has caught the attention of international travel publications, including The New York Times. Here is their recent article.

We will be travelling more across this great province over the summer. Stay tuned for further adventures!


Posted by:Palliser Furniture