Sand Ridge Nature Center

exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building

Sand Ridge Nature Center features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of the Calumet region. Visitors will find live native animal displays, hands-on activities and colorful butterfly and interpretive gardens.

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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Closures & Cancellations

Nature Center grounds, trails and bathrooms are open seven days per week, from 8 am to 4 pm. Nature Center exhibit buildings remain closed. Drinking fountains are not available, please bring your own water. Parking will be limited to 50% capacity to help limit crowding.

Learn more about COVID-19 cancellations and closures.


A rendering of new exhibits at Sand Ridge Nature Center, scheduled to open to the public later in 2021.
A rendering of new exhibits at Sand Ridge Nature Center, scheduled to open to the public in summer 2021.

Location, Hours & Things to Do

Sand Ridge Nature Center

Things to Do & Amenities

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.

Hours

Mar - Oct: 9am - 5pm, closed FridaysNov - Feb: 9am - 4pm, closed FridaysClosed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day

Closures & Alerts


the boardwalk on the Lost Beach Trail at Sand Ridge Nature Center
The Lost Beach and Dogwood Trails feature boardwalks over wetlands.

Walking Trails

Sand Ridge Nature Center offers four walking trails that pass through a number of habitats including prairies, oak savannas and woodlands on ancient beaches and sand dunes, marshes and ponds.

Surface

Unpaved

Estimated Total Length

3.9 miles

Things to Do

  1. Service dogs are allowed at most public locations. View accessibility policies.

Hours

Mar - Oct: 8 am - 5 pmNov - Feb: 8 am - 4 pmClosed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day

Closures & Alerts

*Please be a courteous trail user: Follow posted signs and our trail rules and etiquette.

Events & Programs


Field Trips & Hybrid Learning

Our hybrid learning and field trip offerings allow teachers, parents and youth leaders to use forest preserves and nature centers as an outdoor (or virtual) classroom. Our hybrid learning programs serve kindergarten through 12th grade students and meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), while our field trips serve everyone from pre-K to adult learners.

Contact one of our nature centers or experience.nature@cookcountyil.gov for more information or to discuss programs tailored to your learning objectives.

Sand Ridge Nature Center
15891 Paxton Ave
708-868-0606

pioneer cabins at Sand Ridge Nature Center
Sand Ridge’s pioneer cabins during the annual Settlers’ Day event.

Pioneer Cabins & Period Programming

Sand Ridge Nature Center’s pioneer cabins depict pioneer life in the early 1800s through period living quarters, tools, artifacts and costumed living history demonstrations.

Sand Ridge Nature Center hosts annual festivals and other programming that celebrates the cultural history of the Chicago region. These events include the Underground Railroad Interactive Hike, Juneteenth Celebration, Archaeology Day (celebrating Native American culture), Settlers’ Day and Christmas Past.


Volunteer Opportunities

Help take care of Sand Ridge Nature Center with removal of invasive plants. Come out to this spectacular place and do some good work for nature and friends.


Rules

  • Pets are not permitted on Nature Center grounds, including the parking lots.
  • Nature Centers are unable to accept injured, orphaned or abandoned wildlife.
  • For your safety and for the protection of natural areas, please stay on marked trails. Trails are for hiking only.
  • Bicycles are only allowed in Nature Center parking lots, or at provided bike racks.
  • For the benefit of other visitors and wildlife, please maintain respectful noise levels at all times.
  • Picnicking is not permitted on Nature Center grounds. An adjacent picnic grove can be opened for pre-registered groups on weekdays.
  • Food or drink is not permitted in Nature Center buildings.
  • With the exception of water or sports bottles, food and drink are not permitted on Nature Center trails. Please dispose of litter in proper receptacles.
  • Collecting of any kind is prohibited, as is the use of metal detectors. The fine for picking wildflowers is $500.
  • For the protection of animals and visitors alike, please do not feed the wildlife.
  • Be mindful of closing times for trails, the Nature Center building and parking lot.
  • Please report safety hazards or suspicious activities to the Nature Center staff.
  • Cross-country skiing is not permitted on Nature Center trails.