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Permit Required for Reserved Spaces

DuPage forest preserves offer hundreds of picnic tables and inviting places to spread a blanket.

Ground fires are not allowed; however, at most preserves you can bring a grill. (Most have hot-coal disposal bins.) Alcohol is always prohibited.

family picnicking on the grass


If you want to picnic with more than 25 people or ensure a shelter or picnic area is available, you need to apply for a permit at least three full business days in advance.

To reserve a picnic area at St. James Farm, call 630-580-7027. You can reserve all other picnic areas on this page online 24/7 or through Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 or 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) or Spanish application (PDF). Fees are nonrefundable regardless of why you cancel (even for weather), but you can change your reservation one time up to one week in advance through Visitor Services for an additional $5.

Reservable Picnic Areas Per Day

Click on the name of any underlined shelter or area below for a photo.

G = Built in charcoal grill; E = Electricity (20 amp only); F = Fireplace or fire pit (Firewood is provided. Outside firewood is not allowed.) 

Forest Preserve






North Shelter GE 50 100 $60 $75
South Shelter G 50 100 $55 $70
East Shelter G 50 100 $55 $70
West Shelter —  50 100 $45 $60
Sand Pond Shelter GE 50 100 $60 $75
Hawthorn Grove Picnic Area  — 300 $70 $90

Burlington Park          
Shelter G 25 25 $55 $70

Churchill Woods          
Shelter G 100 100 $100 $120
Central Picnic Area  — 50 $35 $45
West Picnic Area
 — 50 $35 $45
Reservable Fire Pit 1 25  $40 $50
Reservable Fire Pit 2   25  $40 $50

Cricket Creek              
Shelter  — 25 25 $45 $60

Fullersburg Woods          
Shelter 50 50 $45 $60

Greene Valley          
East Shelter  — 50 100 $45 $60
West Shelter  — 50 100 $45 $60

Herrick Lake          
East Shelter GE 100 100 $105 $130
West Shelter G 50 100 $55 $70
South Shelter F 50 50 $45 $60
North Picnic Area 150 $35 $45

Hidden Lake          
Shelter GE 50 100 $60 $75

Mallard Lake          
Shelter  — 50 100 $45 $60

McDowell Grove            
North Shelter F 25 25 $45 $60
Central Picnic Area   — 100 $35 $45

Pratt's Wayne Woods          
Shelter G 100 100 $100 $120

Songbird Slough          
Shelter 50 100 $45 $60

Spring Creek Reservoir          
Shelter 50 50 $50 $65

Springbrook Prairie          
Shelter E 50 100 $50 $65

St. James Farm          
Pavilion GE  150 300 $250 $350
Black Walnut Picnic Grove   100 $70 $90

Wood Dale Grove          
North Shelter 50 100 $45 $60
South Shelter G 50 100 $55 $70

York Woods
G 100 100 $100 $120

Grills & Canopies

If you have a picnic permit, you can rent a Forest Preserve District canopy or grill (if available) at select sites to use the same day. You can set up a private canopy at certain locations, too, but need to pay an extra fee if your canopy is over 200 square feet.

To rent a canopy or grill or request to set up your own canopy, call Visitor Services at 630-933-7248 at least seven full business days before your event.

DuPage Residents

Forest Preserve District Canopy

20' x 30', 75-person capacity and includes setup and takedown

Private Canopy Over 200 Square Feet

You are responsible for contacting JULIE to ensure you set up in the right spot.

Forest Preserve District Grill

Grills are 2’ x 5' and do not include charcoal or lighter fluid.



Forest Preserve District Canopy

20' x 30', 75-person capacity and includes setup and takedown

Private Canopy Over 200 Square Feet

You are responsible for contacting JULIE to ensure you set up in the right spot.

Forest Preserve District Grill

Grills are 2’ x 5' and do not include charcoal or lighter fluid.


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.

  •  As the permit holder, you must be 18 or older and remain on-site with a copy of your permit for the duration of your event. 
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
  • Park vehicles only in designed areas.
  • Keep your area clean and put trash in the appropriate garbage or recycling containers. After you pack up, make sure the area looks as it did when you arrived. 
  • Do not exceed the stated maximum area capacity.
  • If you bring dogs, stay with them at all times. Always keep them leashed and quiet, and pick up any pet waste. Do not tie them to any trees, plants, buildings or equipment. With the exception of service animals, other animals are not allowed.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, place hot coals in the marked disposal bins at the preserve.
  • Do not start any ground fires.
  • Do not bring or use horseshoes, piñatas, egg-toss games, water balloons, animal rides, musical performers, disc jockeys, stages, trampolines, or attractions such as dunk tanks and inflatables. Balloon releases are also prohibited.
  • You can set up a private canopy in most areas as long as it’s 200 square feet or smaller. If you want to set up a larger canopy, you must have advanced approval from Visitor Services, which may require an extra fee.
  • If you use generators, radios, microphones or similar equipment, only use them at volumes that do not disturb other visitors. Place generators on platforms so they don’t damage the grass.
  • If you use signs or decorations, they must be free-standing. Do not staple, pin, tack, nail, tape, tie or attach them to trees, shelters or other structures. Make sure to take them down before you leave.
  • If you have contracted entertainment, they cannot use animals and they must clean up before they leave.
  • You can use caterers but cannot bring in food trucks. Caterers must park in designated spots, serve from within your reservable area, and clean up before they leave. 
  • Per the General Use Regulation Ordinance, several activities require special-use permits in addition to a picnic permit. These activities include fundraisers for charitable, humanitarian, or benevolent causes; contests; training programs or exercises; shows; exhibits of dramatic performances; plays; acts; motion pictures; acrobatic feats; bazaars; sporting events; musical events; ceremonies; children’s day camps; or any public meetings, assemblies, demonstrations, or parades, including but not limited to drills or maneuvers, rallies, picketing events, public speeches or addresses, group marches, or political meetings. To request a special-use permit, contact Visitor Services at 630-933-7247 at least four full calendar weeks in advance.

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.

Special-Use Permits

Several event types and unique requests — such as weddings and other ceremonies, church services, 5K fundraisers, walkathons, classes, trainings, tournaments, photo or movie shoots, etc. — require more than picnic permits. They require special-use permits, which you must request at least four full calendar weeks in advance through Visitor Services at 630-933-7247. For more information, see the Special-Use Permits page.