The lakes and rivers of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County are an excellent place for recreational boating. Easily, accessible and close to home, they offer great fishing and beautiful scenery.


The following types of watercraft are permitted in certain areas. Please see the complete list below for specific regulations for each boating location:  

  • Sailboats
  • Rowboats
  • Canoes
  • Kayaks
  • Non-gasoline powered watercraft (of either traditional construction, or multi-chambered inflatables with a factory installed floor and hull identification number)
  • Radio-controlled boats
  • Floatplanes

Gas-powered motorboats are NOT allowed on Forest Preserve District property.  Flotation devices, including inner-tubes, fly-fishing float-tubes or pontoons, sail-surf boards, towables or inflatable pool toys, lounges or rafts, are prohibited.



Des Plaines River: All watercraft. Outboard motorboats only. One ramp located at Plank Road Meadow, Ogden Avenue and First Avenue, Lyons.  Outboard motorboat launch ramps at Allison Woods, Prospect Heights; Stony Ford, Lyons; Columbia Woods, Willow Springs; Lemont Landing, Lemont.

A canoe map of the Des Plaines River is available on the Canoe Trail page.


Little Calumet River: All watercraft. Outboard motorboat s only. Two ramps located: North of Jackson St. east of Ashland, Riverdale; and south of 130th St., west of Ford Expressway, Chicago.


I & M Canal (Willow Springs area): canoes only. Enter at Willow Springs Rd.



Beck Lake: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, electric motorboats.  Located: Central & River Road, Des Plaines.


Big Bend Lake: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, electric motorboats. Located: East River Road south of Golf Road, Des Plaines.


Busse Lake: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats permitted in Main Lake & South Pool, ramps in both. Electric motorboats allowed at main Lake only. Located: Higgins Road & I-290, Elk Grove Village.



Maple Lake: rowboats, electric motorboats. Only rental boats are allowed. No Private Boats allowed. Located: Wolf Road & 95th Street, Willow Springs.



Powderhorn Lake: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, electric motorboats. Located: Brainerd Ave. east of Burnham Ave., Chicago.


Saganashkee Slough: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, electric motorboats. Boat launch at west parking lot. Located: 107th Street, between Archer Ave. & Willow Springs Road.


Skokie Lagoons: canoes, kayaks, rowboats, sailboats, electric motorboats. FPD partner canoe and kayak rental available.  Boat ramp off of Tower Rd. entrance. Located: between Dundee and Willow Roads, east of the Edens Expressway.


Tampier Lake: canoes, kayaks, rowboats; electric motorboats.. Boat ramp at main parking lot off 131st. Located: 131st Street, west of Wolf Road, Orland Park.



* No, electric motorboats allowed, outboard motorboats only.

Boats must be registered and titled with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources or state of residence and must display their registration. Personal flotation devices, as mandated by federal law, are required for all watercraft.

Forest Preserve District Boat Rental:

Boat rental is available at Busse, Tampier and Maple lakes. Boats are available for rental beginning at 6 am and must be returned no later than 7:30 pm. The rental season is weather dependent, but generally lasts from early April through late October.


Rental rates are as follows:

Rowboats or canoes: $15 per hour or $35 for 8 hours

Motorboats: $60 for 8 hours Require a minimum of a 2 hour rental


Busse Reservoir Boat Concessions: Located at Main Lake, Higgins Road & I-290, Elk Grove Village. For reservations please call, (847) 228-5253.

Maple Lake Boat Concession:  Located at Wolf Road & 95th Street, Willow Springs. For reservations please call, (708) 361-0460.

Tampier Lake Boat Concession:  Located: 131st Street, west of Wolf Road, Orland Park. For reservations, please call, (708) 361-0460.



The Fishing Guide  lists all fishing and boating locations, and all regulations and other information, including maps of all lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs and sloughs open to fishing and boating within the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The Guide is available here  for downloading in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Printed copies of the Fishing Guide are available at the FPDCC Headquarters in River Forest and also our Nature Centers.


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