On January 2, 2014, Permit Opening Day, the Forest Preserves will be offering a new online system that will streamline the permitting process. The system, called ActiveNet, will allow you to apply electronically for a wide range of Forest Preserves permits.


To reserve picnic spots and request event spaces through ActiveNet, you must first set up an account. Once you do, you’ll be able to review your transaction history. And you can still buy a 2014 permit in person at Forest Preserves Headquarters, beginning Opening Day, if you prefer.


Click here to create your ActiveNet account and don’t forget to book your favorite picnic spot for 2014 beginning in January.


If you don’t see the Make Reservations option on the ActiveNet site for reserving picnic permits, please close your browser and log in again. You may be experiencing a site caching issue.


General permits are required for gatherings of more than 25 people on Forest Preserve property. Permit types include picnic, corporate picnic, walk-a-thon, fishing derby and many more. There are approximately 275 groves available for rental to the public. Permits may be purchased online or in person at the Forest Preserves’ Headquarters, 536 N. Harlem Avenue, River Forest, Illinois.

Important Information

Important Information

  • Applicants must be 21 years or older and have a valid driver’s license or state identification.
  • Individuals and organizations are limited to two picnic permits a year.
  • Permits are issued be time blocks. Hours for permits vary per season. Please see below for hours.
  • The Forest Preserve District is not responsible for picnics/events cancelled due to inclement weather. Permit fees are non-refundable in cases of cancellation and/or inclement weather.
  • An online account must be created in order to purchase a permit online.

Permits are valid between the following hours

Permits are valid between the following hours


Winter Hours: November through February      7:00am – 4:30pm

Spring Hours: March through May                    7:00am – 6:30pm

Summer Hours: June through August               7:00am – 8:00pm

Fall Hours: September through October            7:00am – 6:00pm

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Nonprofit Organization Reduced Rate Information

The Forest Preserves of Cook County’s Nonprofit Organization Reduced Rate Information

Requests for a permit made by a school or bona fide nonprofit organization, residing in the County of Cook, may receive a reduction in fees by 50%. Requests must be made in person and documentation must be provided at the time of the application. A bona fide nonprofit organization is one which is engaged in charitable, educational, civic, youth, and faith-based activities. For purposes of qualifying for the Nonprofit Organization Reduced Rate, an applicant must submit proof of the following:

  1. Exemption under Section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code or
  2. Current registration with the Illinois Attorney General as a charitable organization.
  3. The location of the official headquarters or administrative office of the organization submitting the request for said permits is located in the County of Cook and is the same as that which is on file with the Illinois Attorney General, or was submitted for exemption under Section 501 (C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, except in the case of local chapters of national organization, wherein the local chapter maintains a Cook County office and submits proof of affiliation with the national organization.
  4. If the applicant is a school located within Cook County, no additional documentation or proof of nonprofit status shall be required other than a letter signed by an official of the school stating that the activity/event is officially sanctioned under and supervised by employee(s) of the school.
  5. Notwithstanding any other published deadlines, all applications for Reduced Rate Picnic or Special Use Permits must be received by the Recreation Department no less than 45 days prior to the date of the Event. All applications for Reduced Rate Permits must be submitted in person.
  6. Vending of Food or Merchandise is not allowed under the Reduced Rate Special Use Permit, except for charitable organizations with net assets of $10,000 or less who apply for the vending fee permit waiver. Qualification for the vending fee permit waiver requires registration with the Illinois Attorney General’s office as a charitable organization, and submission of a balance statement for the previous year to verify its assets at the time of application for a permit.

Applicants applying for the not-for-profit discount must also have a letter from the Not-for-Profit Organization requesting the discount, signed by an official of the requesting Organization, on Official Organization letterhead, stipulating the event is an Official Organization function.

Alcohol Free Preserves

Alcohol Free Preserves

Alcohol free preserves


Click here to download PDF.




Please scroll below and select the appropriate permit type for your group.

The following permit types will be available for purchase through ActiveNet and in-person on January 2, 2014

Basic Picnic Permit

A “Basic Picnic Permit” is issued for groups (of 25 – to 350) who wish to hold a simple picnic with no Special Use items.

Learn More

Picnic + Special Use Permit


A “Picnic + Special Use Permit” is required for picnics that wish to bring Special Use items onto Forest Preserve property. Special Use items include but are not limited to: amplified sound equipment (e.g. D.J.), beer trucks, dunk tanks, generators, inflatables, kiddie rides, on-site caterers, petting zoos/pony rides, port-o-lets/port-o-sinks, and tents.

Learn More


Special & Large-Capacity Event Permits


Special “Event” permits are required to use Forest Preserve property for a one-time event, including but not limited to one day sporting events, corporate picnics (400+ attendees), walkathons, fishing derbies, bike events, etc.

Learn More


Coming Soon! Later in 2014, you will be able to purchase the following permits, licenses and memberships through the ActiveNet system. In the meantime, you may still download the application online or submit in-person.

Camping Permit


The Forest Preserves of Cook County currently operates overnight camping facilities for youth organizations at Camp Alphonse. In late 2014 and 2015, five new family campsites will open in the Forest Preserves.

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Indoor Event Facilities


The Forest Preservesof Cook County offers 3 indoor room rental facilities. Rooms can be rented out for private parties, weddings, birthdays, communions, baptisms and organizational meetings.

Learn More

Equestrian Licenses and Tags


Enjoy horseback riding on the Forest Preserves multi-use trail system. Ride your own horse or go on a guided tour from any of eight stables offering livery service. Horse registration and/or riders license is required. Horseback riders on Forest Preserves trails must have a Rider’s License issued by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. There are various horse trails and stables throughout the district. All horses either privately or publicly owned must be licensed. Licenses are valid from July 1st through June 30th of the following year.

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Off-Leash Dog Area Membership


The Forest Preserves of Cook County provides the Beck Lake and Bremen Grove Off-Leash Dog Areas for visitors to unleash their dogs. These are currently the ONLY locations within the Forest Preserves where dogs may be unleashed. Dog owners wishing to enter the off-leash dog areas must procure a permit for the location.

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Snowmobiling Permit


Snowmobiling is allowed at 5 designated locations in Cook County. Snowmobiles must be registered with both the State of Illinois and the Forest Preserves (proof of insurance is required). Snowmobile areas are opened when a minimum 4 inch snow base exists on frozen turf and temperatures are constant 20° or less.

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Aquatic Membership


The Forest Preserves of Cook County operates 3 aquatic centers located in Chicago, Lyons, and Calumet City. Green Lake and Cermak Family Aquatic Centers are incredible new recreational offerings from the Forest Preserves of Cook County for families with children 12 years of age and younger. Whealan Aquatic Center has something for all ages and offers swim lessons. Aquatic memberships can be obtained at each of the three locations.

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The following permit types must be purchased in-person at our general headquarters or by fax or mail.

Day Camp Permit


The Forest Preserves offers Day Camp Permits to Organized Youth Organizations wishing to utilize Forest Preserve property for daily use.

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Athletic Field Permits

Athletic Field Permits are issued for the use of Forest Preserve property for Sporting Activities, such as Baseball, Football, Rugby and Soccer, for multiple days, in designated fields. Field Permits are required for organizations and groups of 25 persons or more. Athletic Field Permits will be available for purchase in-person on February 7, 2014 at our General Headquarters.

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Visit two of the treasures of the Forest Preserves of Cook County