Special-Use Permits

Special-Use Permits

Thinking about having your special event or unique request — ceremony, church service, 5K fundraiser, walkathon, class, training, tournament, photo or movie shoot, etc. — at a DuPage forest preserve? Then you’ll need a special-use permit. Look at our frequently asked questions below to help determine if you’ll need a special-use permit. Then fill out the inquiry form below.

Special-Use Permit FAQs

Why do I need a special use permit?

Special-use permits cover activities that fall outside the needs of a normal picnic permit, such as those activities listed above, but also requests to exceed facility capacities, impact trail use and extend usage hours outside of our normal open and close times. The permit ensures we can efficiently arrange for a safe and successful private event for you and a pleasant experience for our regular forest preserve visitors.

How do I request a permit?

We want to hear more about your event! Fill out our inquiry form below or call Visitor Services at 630-871-6421. If we feel we can accommodate your event, we’ll send you an application. (We’ll let you know either way.)

You can submit an application up to a year in advance but must do so at least four full calendar weeks before your event. With your application you must also send in the application fee and any fees for reservable areas.

Submitting an application does not guarantee a permit, but we will refund any fees if we are unable to provide one. Dates and locations are first-come, first-served.

How much does a permit cost?

All special-use permits have a $45 application fee. You need to submit this with your completed application.

Shelter or picnic area fees will apply depending on the size and type of your event. Here's a list of picnic sites and fees.

After reviewing your application, we may determine additional fees are needed to cover costs related to our staff, your group’s size, effects on trail use for other visitors, location, requests before or after normal forest preserve operating hours, or other factors. We’ll arrange for you to submit those fees closer to your event date.

Where can I hold my special event?

We want your event to be successful while still offering a memorable experience for our other forest preserve visitors. Certain forest preserves may be better-suited for certain types of events or number of attendees. We’re happy to help you find the best location!

Can I use the preserve after hours?

DuPage forest preserves are open daily one hour after sunrise to one hour after sunset. We may allow use outside of these hours on a case-by-case basis as accommodations allow for an additional hourly fee.

What if I need to cancel my event due to weather or low attendance?

If you need to cancel, your fees are nonrefundable regardless of the reason, even for weather. However, you can change your reservation one time up to one week in advance for an extra $5.

Do I need insurance or any additional permits?

If your event is for a group other than your family, you’ll need a certificate of insurance on behalf of the organization hosting the event or the individual permit holder.

The certificate must have $1 million in general liability coverage and $2 million in general aggregate and list the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County as both the additionally insured and the certificate holder. (We can send you a sample certificate of insurance upon request.) We must receive the certificate at least one week before the event, and the policy must remain current throughout the duration of the special-use permit.

If you want to hold a raffle or similar component, you may need additional permits through DuPage County.

Are there any restricted activities?

We are a conservation-focused agency, so we do not allow alcohol, horseshoes, piñatas, confetti, sidewalk chalk, water balloons, animal rides, inflatables, amusement contraptions, musical bands, DJs, stages, and other activities or features. Please refer to our general use ordinance and our picnic rules and regulations for details.

Will the Forest Preserve District promote my event?

We do not publicize private events. We encourage you to promote your event in advance, but you cannot do so on forest preserve property. Any day-of marketing materials at the forest preserve must be free-standing and removed before you leave.

Does the Forest Preserve District offer event coordination services?

We do not offer these services but are happy to guide you on the types of services you may need. For instance, you may need third-party permission for overflow parking; inspections from J.U.L.I.E. for large canopies; or portable toilet, handwashing station or chair rentals. We do not have an approved vendor list but reserve the right to deny the use of a vendor if necessary.

What can I expect after submitting an inquiry for a special use permit?

After you submit your request, we will reach out to you to further discuss your event, including availability, accommodation and a base cost of associated fees.

If your request is approved, we will supply a special-use application and sample certificate of insurance. Please keep in mind, in order to hold your event date and location, Visitor Services must receive your application and permit fees. We are not able to tentatively hold space for your event.

Between the time you submit your application and your event date, a member from our on-site team will contact you to discuss your day-of event logistics and ensure your needs are met.

A final permit and conditions agreement, containing a detailed logistical timeline of your permit, will be sent closer to your event date after your certificate of insurance and remaining permit balance has been received. Please review these documents for important details regarding your event. You must carry a copy of your final permit during your event.

At any time during this process if you have additional questions/comments please reach out to us at 630-871-6421. We are happy to help!


Inquiry Form

If we feel we can accommodate your event, we’ll send you a special-use permit application. (We’ll let you know either way.) Submitting this form (or the completed application) does not guarantee you will receive a permit.

The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County offers programs and activities for grownups, kids, families and groups year-round.


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