Parks and Preserves Are Still Open. But Many Facilities Are Closed, Programs Canceled

Parks and preserves are tightening restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. In the spring, even picnic tables were "closed." (Raed Mansour / Flickr)Parks and preserves are tightening restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. In the spring, even picnic tables were "closed." (Raed Mansour / Flickr)

The great outdoors remains open for respite and refuge during the latest restrictions imposed by the city and state due to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

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But the Chicago Park District and surrounding suburban forest preserve districts have announced the suspension of in-person programming and closed a number of facilities until further notice. 

Officials with the various districts are reminding people of proper trail etiquette: Practice physical distancing with people outside your household, and move to the right and break into single file when passing others.

Read on to find out about various measures now in effect throughout the region. Due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, be sure to check each entity’s website prior to heading out to a park or preserve.

Chicago Park District: All in-person programming is canceled indefinitely as of Friday. Park field houses will remain open solely for shelter or use of washrooms during regular hours of operation. Masks are mandatory. Click here for updates.

Cook County Forest Preserves: In-person events and programs are canceled or will be moved online, group campsites will be closed, indoor room rentals are suspended, and outdoor permitted events and volunteer stewardship days are canceled until at least Dec. 16. Permits are still available for dates in 2021, but must be purchased online or by phone for the time being. Once the in-person permit counter reopens, reservations will be required. 

Will County Forest Preserves: All visitor centers will be closed. All indoor programming is canceled. Outdoor programs will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Face masks are required for outdoor program participants, with exceptions, per state guidelines.

Lake County Forest Preserves: The Dunn Museum in Libertyville is closed until further notice. In-person education programs, volunteer projects and special events have been canceled or modified. 

DuPage County Forest Preserves: The Willowbrook Wildlife Center visitor center, outdoor nature exhibit trail and surrounding forest preserve are all closed. All programs have been suspended through the end of the year. The lone exception is the district's “cleanup crew” program, in which volunteers pick up litter on preserve trails and roadsides. To learn about the program or to apply, click here

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources maintains an updated list online of closures affecting state parks

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


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