LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond Research Natural Area is one of the most unique areas in the world. The 150-foot limestones cliffs and the surrounding 2,811 acres are home to 14 natural communities. Ninety percent of all the mammals who call Illinois home can be found in the natural area, along with 173 bird species. Many visitors come to watch the biannual snake migration across “Snake Road,” a gravel road in front of the bluffs that is closed twice a year for the phenomenon. A number of observation spots dot the road at the top of the bluffs providing spectacular views of the Mississippi River Valley, including a popular short hike to Inspiration Point. In 1991, LaRue-Pine Hills-Otter Pond became the nation’s 250th Research Natural Area and is permanently protected to maintain biological diversity and the 1,200 species of plants and animal who live in the area. Capturing, collecting, or harassing wildlife of any kind is prohibited.