Sand Ridge Nature Center

exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building

Sand Ridge Nature Center features interactive exhibits, programs and knowledgeable staff to guide you through the natural and cultural history of the Calumet Region. Visitors will find native wildlife ambassadors—including birds of prey, snakes, turtles and fish—as well as hands-on activities and self-guided nature fun. Watch birds at the feeders from the flight room, explore the nature play area, stroll through demonstration gardens, learn from the past at the replica log cabins, or walk four miles of nature trails through woodlands, prairies and wetlands.

On this page:


Sand Ridge Main Phone Number Not Working

Sand Ridge Nature Center’s main phone is not working. Please contact sandridge.naturecenter@cookcountyil.gov or 224-501-6634 to reach Nature Center staff.

COVID-19 Visitor Information

All visitors over 2 years of age must wear a mask indoors at all times. Unvaccinated visitors should also wear a mask outdoors when physical distancing (six feet from other people) is not possible.


inside the Sand Ridge Nature Center exhibit room showing educational exhibits and turtles
Photo by Sebasthian Picasso.

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


directions sign for Sand Ridge Campus next to a paved trail
Photo by Sebasthian Picasso.

Sand Ridge Campus

Sand Ridge Nature Center is the centerpiece of the Sand Ridge Campus.

Explore everything that makes the Calumet Region special at Sand Ridge Campus—a 585-acre nature-based education and recreation area that invites visitors to learn about and enjoy the natural and cultural history of the area while hiking, biking, fishing, camping and more.

Through interactive exhibits and programs, Sand Ridge Nature Center tells the story of the area’s rare dune-and-swale landscape and its relationship to native plants and animals—and thousands of years of human history. You can look for birds and colorful wildflowers on the Nature Center’s walking trails, meet a hawk or turtle wildlife ambassador, or simply immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the woodlands, prairies and wetlands.

Ready to get active? Bike, walk or run the three miles of paved trails around the Sand Ridge Campus or stretch your exercise session on an expanding network of local and regional trails.

Go fishing at Green Lake, where you can catch largemouth bass, bluegill or the rainbow trout we stock each spring and fall. Or enjoy a different kind of water-based fun on the water playground, slides or lazy river at Green Lake Family Aquatic Center.

From April to October, Camp Shabbona Woods lets you extend your day trip to an evening under the stars in a tent or cabin, complete with group campfires and programs on weekends.

Whichever adventure you choose at Sand Ridge Campus, you’ll leave inspired by this wild and wonderful place in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.


Sand Ridge Campus Maps


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

red-tailed hawk in flight
Sun, Dec 5 • 1:30 pm

Meet Our Birds

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Wed, Dec 8 • 10 am

Wee Wonders: Peek-A-Boo Who?

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
a group of wrapped presents on grass
Sat, Dec 11 • 10 am

DIY Green Holiday

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sun, Dec 12 • 11 am

Christmas Past

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Wed, Dec 15 • 4:30 pm

Twilight Bird Walk

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sat, Dec 18 • 9 am

Wellness in the Woods: Self-Guided Meditation

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sun, Dec 19 • 9 am

Wellness in the Woods: Self-Guided Meditation

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sun, Jan 2 • 1 pm

Resolution Walk

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sat, Jan 8 • 2 pm

Live Healthy, Discover Nature! Hike

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
red-tailed hawk in flight
Sun, Jan 9 • 1:30 pm

Meet Our Birds

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Wed, Jan 12 • 10 am

Wee Wonders: Who’s Footprints are Those?

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
Wellness in the Woods logo
Fri, Jan 14 • 6 pm

Wellness in the Woods: “Solitude” in Nature

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Mon, Jan 17 • 10 am

MLK Day of Service: Give Back to the Land

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Fri, Jan 21 • 6 pm

Sand Ridge by Candlelight

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sun, Jan 30 • 1 pm

Creative Reuse: Paper Making

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sat, Feb 5 • 2 pm

Live Healthy, Discover Nature! Hike

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Fri, Feb 11 • 6 pm

Evening Valentine’s Walk

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sat, Feb 12 • 10 am

Nature Tales: The Stories Tracks Leave

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
red-tailed hawk in flight
Sun, Feb 13 • 1:30 pm

Meet Our Birds

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Fri, Feb 18 • 7 pm

Owl Prowl

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
Wellness in the Woods logo
Sat, Feb 19 • 1:30 pm

Wellness in the Woods: Headphones Hike

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
a Forest Preserves staff member leading a group on an Underground Railroad history hike at Sand Ridge Nature Center
Sat, Feb 26 • 10 am

Black History Month: Underground Railroad Walks

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
exterior of the Sand Ridge Nature Center building
Sun, Feb 27 • 1 pm

Creative Reuse: Journal Making

Sand Ridge Nature Center • South Holland, IL 60473
All Events »

Field Trips & Hybrid Learning

Teachers, parents and youth leaders: You can use Sand Ridge Campus 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 us at 708-868-0606 or sandridge.naturecenter@cookcountyil.gov to discuss programs tailored to your learning objectives.

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

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.