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Cook County forest preserve picnic, camping permits for 2020 season to go on sale Nov. 15

Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Steve Schering

Permits sales for Forest Preserve District of Cook County properties for the 2020 season will go on sale Friday, Nov. 15 as the agency celebrates its annual “opening day."

Online and in-person permit sales for 2020 picnics and special events, as well as campground reservations, will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 15. In-person sales will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the forest preserve headquarters at 536 N. Harlem Ave. in River Forest and at the Dan Ryan Visitor Center, 8700 S. Western Ave., in Chicago.


Online sales will also open at 8 a.m. Nov. 15, and will remain open 24 hours a day at In addition to saving time by purchasing online, visitors can view information such as site availability, grove maps and the various associated fees.

Those planning to apply for permits in-person must have a valid federal or state-issued identification card. Accepted payment methods include cash, check or credit card. 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.

Picnic permits are required for groups of 25 or more using forest preserve property. To reserve picnic groves and request event spaces either online or in-person, patrons must first set up an account through the Forest Preserve District of Cook County website.

Permits for groups of more than 1,000 attendees may be requested now. Customers may submit applications in-person at the forest preserve headquarters.

In 2019, more than 7,000 permits were sold for picnics and special events at forest preserve properties. Top sites for picnics and special events included Dan Ryan Woods in Chicago, Busse Woods in northwest Cook County and Schiller Woods in Chicago/Schiller Park, officials said.

In addition to picnic permits, all 2020 camping dates will be available beginning at 8 a.m. Nov. 15. Camping reservations may be made online at or by phone at 855-937-2267. Camping permits may also be secured in-person at forest preserve campgrounds Camp Sullivan in Oak Forest, Camp Bullfrog Lake in Willow Springs or Camp Reinberg in Palatine during office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on business days or when there are campers.

Anyone with questions or needing assistance with online permit purchases can contact forest preserve permits staff at 800-870-3666 or visit

Twitter: @steveschering

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