Permits available online and in person
For the first time, Forest Preserves of Cook County picnic and special event permit sales for the upcoming year begins on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, nearly seven weeks earlier than the traditional January opening day.
“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. Additionally, we recognize that some residents may still be busy or out of town for the holidays come Jan. 2,” explains 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—some of our customers are planning weddings, family reunions and other important events and they want to celebrate those special moments in our Forest Preserves.”
2019 offers numerous opportunities for Cook County residents to come together with family and friends. From birthdays and reunions to holidays and special event gatherings, the public can head to the Forest Preserves to plan their upcoming celebrations outside while surrounded by nature.
Online and in-person permit sales for 2019 picnics and special events begin at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. In-person sales will take place 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.
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 fpdcc.com/permits.
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.
Regular hours at the General 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. – 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. at both the General Headquarters and the Dan Ryan Visitor Center.
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 fpdcc.com/permits.
Permits for groups larger than 399 attendees may be requested beginning Oct. 15, 2018. Customers may submit applications in-person at the General Headquarters location, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax at (708) 771-1071.
In 2018, more than 7,000 permits were sold for picnics and special events. Top sites for picnics and special events include Dan Ryan Woods in Chicago, Busse Woods in northwest Cook County, and Schiller Woods in Chicago/Schiller Park.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.