Forest Preserves in Phase 3: What’s Open, What’s Not

The treetop adventure course at Bemis Woods boasts 2,837 feet of zip line. (Courtesy of Go Ape)The treetop adventure course at Bemis Woods boasts 2,837 feet of zip line. (Courtesy of Go Ape)

For folks who just discovered the Cook County Forest Preserves during the coronavirus shutdown, a host of new-to-you amenities are now back in play as Illinois enters phase three of its reopening plan.

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Camping, golfing and even zip lining are among the recreational opportunities that have been reinstated — or will be soon — but plenty of closures and restrictions remain in effect.

Here’s a look at what you can and can’t do in the preserves, and when. Follow links for additional information.

Open Now

Camping: Four of five campgrounds are open in a limited capacity. Tents are permitted Thursday through Sunday and RVs are welcome daily at Camp Reinberg, Camp Sullivan, Camp Shabbona Woods and Camp Bullfrog Lake. Camp Dan Beard is still closed.  

Golfing: All golf courses are open, though driving ranges and practice facilities are still closed. No walk-ups allowed; tee times must be booked in advance online. Walking is encouraged but cart rental is available. 

Volunteering: Cleared for groups of 10 or fewer.


Opening Soon

Boating: Beginning Monday, Busse Lake Boating Center will be open Mondays and Thursdays for limited rentals, 9 a.m. to sunset. Maple Lake Boating Center is closed for rentals but is open for concessions only, Monday through Thursday. 

Disc golf: The Rolling Knolls disc golf course opens June 12.

Zip lining: The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course at Bemis Woods-South opens June 13 with a few modifications.


Still Closed

— Public restrooms

— Public buildings

— Picnic tables

— Nature Center buildings and grounds

— Aquatic centers

— Swallow Cliff stairs

— Boating centers: Tower Road at Skokie Lagoons, Tampier Lake Boating Center and Maple Lake Boating Center

Weekend parking closures at six preserves will continue. Visitors are still prohibited from bringing grills and coolers, and setting up sports equipment such as goals, nets or cones is not allowed.

Before visiting any preserve, check for additional updates on the Forest Preserves’ COVID-19 web page

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]


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