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Explore Spooky Nature Themes and After-Dark Excursions this Fall

Photo for: Explore Spooky Nature Themes and After-Dark Excursions this Fall

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Witchcraft, shadows and zombies are creeping into the Forest Preserve's program lineup as the District embraces spooky nature themes and after-hours excursions. 

Halloween is around the corner, but shorter days don't mean the fun has to stop. Exploring intriguing nature themes and the dark itself are all part of saying goodbye to summer and embracing the coming winter. 

Program registration is available on the Event Calendar. Here is the lineup: 

Spooky Scavenger Hunt: Friday, October 1-Sunday, October 31, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Free; all ages. 815.722.9470. Visitor center hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. The education center is closed Mondays.

If you need an excuse to wear your favorite Halloween costume this season, this program is for you! Stop by the visitor center to get a map of the scavenger hunt route and a list of items to test your searching skills. And then head out to McKinley Woods to search for spooktacular natural and unnatural items in the forest with your friends and family. Registration is not required. 

Fishing in the Dark: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, October 13, Rock Run Rookery Preserve. Free; ages 16 or older.
Bring a flashlight and your imagination as you cast about for underwater creatures of the night during this nocturnal shoreline session for anglers. Make sure you bring your lucky fishing pole, some bait and a flashlight. Staff will be onsite to greet you at check-in. Boats will not be allowed in the water.

Shadows of the Night Lantern Hike: two sessions, 5-7 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Saturday, October 23, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Free; ages 7 or older.
Hike lantern-lit trails on a crisp fall evening to discover the real creatures sneaking around the woods during this spooky time of year. Find out “whooo” is watching you and what’s making some of those bumps in the night. You might find out there’s a lot more lurking around you than you thought!

History at Home – Witchcraft in Illinois Country: 6-6:45 p.m. Thursday, October 28; Zoom webinar. Free; all ages.

Time travel virtually via Zoom to explore Illinois’ early spooky tales of the unexplained, mysterious and magical. Dive into Native folklore and early explorers’ tall tales as well as accounts of witchcraft on the Illinois frontier. Curl up in front of your computer with your favorite brew as we learn about the fascinating and spooky history of early Illinois.

Halloween Treats with the Turtles: 9-9:30 a.m. Sunday, October 31; Zoom webinar. Free; all ages.
Trick-or-treaters aren’t the only ones who get special tidbits on Halloween. So do the Forest Preserve’s resident Blanding’s turtles. They will be munching on a special Halloween-themed breakfast during this online presentation. The camera will be pointed on the live turtle exhibit, and a naturalist will be in the background sharing information about what you’re seeing as well as answering any questions you have about our turtles. Grab your own breakfast while you log into Zoom for this fun virtual program.

Don’t be a Zombie – Eat a Bug: Tuesday, November 2-Sunday, November 28, Plum Creek Nature Center. Free; all ages. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. The nature center is closed Mondays.

Snack on some scrumptious bugs, perhaps a delicious roasted cricket or two, as you tour the visitor center’s zombie exhibits. While insects might not be a meal norm here, they are in about 80% of the world. Eating insects is an excellent emergency-preparedness strategy. And you never know when some zombies might cause an apocalypse, so it’s good to be prepared. 

Lantern Night Hike: 7-8:15 p.m. Thursday, November 18, Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Visitor Center. Free; all ages.

Sign up for this program to get special after-hours access to the sights and sounds of nature after dark. Lanterns will be provided for this guided hike after sundown.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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