Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits

Applications for Cook County Forest Preserves picnic and special events permits will open Nov. 15 — more than six weeks ahead of the traditional Jan. 1 open day for permits.
“For years we have opened up reservations for the next year in person and online on the first working day after New Year’s — usually Jan. 2. Every year people line up outside, sometimes when the temperature is below zero, to get their favorite groves for their preferred date,” said Arnold Randall, general superintendent for the forest preserves. 
“An earlier opening day helps alleviate some of these issues and also gives families more time to plan,” he said, noting people are planning weddings, family reunions and other important events. An earlier application can help solidify the date for the special event.
Picnic permits are required for groups of 25 or more. To reserve picnic groves and request event spaces either online or in-person, patrons must first set up an account at
Online sales will also open at 8 a.m. on Nov. 15, and will remain available 24 hours a day. In addition to saving time by purchasing permits online, visitors can view information such as site availability, grove maps and the various fees associated with grove rentals by visiting

Those planning to apply for permits in person must have a valid state identification card or driver's license. Accepted payment methods are cash, check or credit card (Visa or MasterCard). Purchasers should begin completing their permit application immediately upon arrival to expedite wait time, and have two or three additional locations in mind in case the first choice is not available.

In-person sales will take place starting Nov. 15 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Forest Preserves of Cook County General Headquarters, 536 N. Harlem Ave. in River Forest, or at the Dan Ryan Visitor Center, 8700 S. Western Ave. in Chicago.
Regular hours at the headquarters location are Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Seasonal hours are Memorial Day through Labor Day, Mondays through Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Permits for groups larger than 399 attendees may be requested now. Customers may submit applications in-person at the general headquarters location, via email at [email protected] or via fax at 708-771-1071.


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