Fee or Permit Required
Rowboats Seat Up to Four
Canoes Seat Up to Three
- For every three watercraft there must be at least one person on the water who’s 18 or older.
- Children 9 and under must be in a boat with someone who’s 18 or older.
- Children 10 – 17 must be near a boat on the water that has someone who’s 18 or older.
- All boats must stay within eyesight of someone who’s 18 or older who’s also on the water.
Bring Your Own
Bring your canoe, kayak, or other qualifying nongasoline-powered watercraft to enjoy Silver Lake at Blackwell, Round Meadow Lake at Hidden Lake, Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake, or Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch. (You can stand-up paddleboard on Silver Lake at Blackwell and Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch as well.)
You need an annual (valid January – December only) or daily permit but can buy one online 24/7. (Scroll down for your purchase options.) You can also get permits through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 or at our headquarters office at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. To apply by mail or fax, download our application (PDF).
People 65 or older, active U.S. military personnel, and honorably discharged U.S. veterans are eligible for one free annual permit per household per calendar year. If this is the first time you’re requesting a free permit, you need to provide proof of your age (driver's license or birth certificate) or military-service status (active status or a DD-214 Member 4 form).
Rules & Regulations
For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, you must follow these rules and regulations, which the Forest Preserve District may change at any time.
- Watercraft are only allowed on four designated Forest Preserve District of DuPage County lakes: Silver Lake at Blackwell, Round Meadow Lake at Hidden Lake, Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake and Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch.
- Silver Lake has a boat launch, which is open March 1 – Nov 30. The other three lakes are carry-in only. At these three, you must manually move your watercraft from the parking lot to the water. If you’re using a trailer, you must unhitch it and park it in its own individual parking space.
- Affix your annual permit to the bow of your watercraft above the waterline. If your watercraft doesn’t have a bow you must carry the permit with you when on the water. For daily permits, you must have the receipt with you. Permits must be presented to a Forest Preserve District of DuPage County staff member for inspection, when requested.
- You can use electric motors but not gas powered. Any watercraft with a motor must have a hull identification number (HIN) and the proper state registration.
- Watercraft over 20 feet long, float tubes, and passive floating inflatables are not allowed. All other inflatable watercraft must be used for their intended purpose.
- Per federal and state regulations, your watercraft must have one properly fitting, wearable, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for each person on board. If it’s 16 feet or longer it must also have a Coast Guard-approved throwable flotation device. Boaters under 13 years old must wear their personal flotation devices at all times.
- You cannot carry passengers and cargo with a total combined weight greater than your watercraft’s posted safe-carrying capacity. The manufacturer’s capacity plate must be permanently affixed to your watercraft.
- Do not swim or enter the water from your watercraft.
- You must be off the water by sunset, and per Illinois law, you must remove all aquatic plants and animals from all equipment before you leave the shore.
As a permit holder you agree to abide by these rules and regulations as well as all Forest Preserve District ordinances and administrative orders and state statutes. You also understand that the Forest Preserve District may fine you or revoke your permit without refunding your permit fee if you supply false information on your application or fail to comply with any rules, regulations, ordinances, orders, or statutes.
Boating on Rivers
If you're boating on either branch of the DuPage River or on Salt Creek, you don't need a Forest Preserve District permit but you do need to follow all state regulations.
You can enter at any practical forest preserve location except at The Preserve at Oak Meadows, but there's easy access to the West Branch DuPage River at Blackwell, Warrenville Grove and McDowell Grove and to Salt Creek at Salt Creek Park, Cricket Creek, Salt Creek Greenway at Hunter Road (take-out only) and Fullersburg Woods near the Graue Mill parking lot.
A Note About Invasive Species
When you move watercraft from lake to lake, you can carry invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil with you. (Some are so small you can't see them with the naked eye!) When these species take over new waters, they can harm the entire ecosystem. Please do your part wherever you boat.
- Remove all plants, animals, and mud from boats, equipment, and trailers.
- Drain all water from your boat and gear, and dry everything thoroughly with a towel.
- Empty all bait buckets in garbage cans or dumpsters before leaving the lake.