Picnicking

The Forest Preserve District of Will County has over 30 picnic shelters found in various preserves throughout the county.  

A permit is required for all groups of 25 or more to use a shelter. The largest shelter, Bluegill Hill Shelter at Monee Reservoir, can accommodate up to 200 people. Shelter amenities vary by shelter, but all include wheelchair accessible picnic tables, grills and accessible latrines.

If you are looking for the perfect venue for your next family picnic or celebration, search below for a picnic shelter near you.

CLICK HERE TO FIND A SHELTER

CHECK SHELTER AVAILABILITY AND MAKE A RESERVATION

If you are interested in hosting a public event in a Forest Preserve, fill out an event application.

How to get a picnic permit

Shelters and groves are available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis. Permits for rentals in a calendar year become available on the first business day of the new year. No tentative reservations are issued. 

Renters must be 18 years or older to obtain a permit. A permit must be obtained no less than two business days prior to the reservation date. This means that reservations for the upcoming weekend must be made by close-of-business (4 p.m.) on Wednesday.

All reservations must be made in-person or online. Reservations are not taken over the phone. All permit sales are final. No refunds for canceled reservations.

A permit can be purchased at any of the following visitor centers:

  • Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon
  • Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Bolingbrook
  • Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville 
  • Monee Reservoir, Monee Township (This visitor center only permits the shelters and grove at its location.)
  • Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township
  • Sugar Creek Administration Center, Joliet

For the Four Rivers Shelter in Channahon, check availability and arrange for rental by calling 815-722-9470.

A permit grants exclusive use of a shelter for the entire day. You may access the shelter beginning at 8 a.m. and must exit at the following times based on the season of your reservation:

  • Summer: 8 p.m.
  • Fall/spring: 6 p.m.
  • Winter: 4 p.m. 

Some conditions apply when bringing certain equipment or activities into the preserve. 

GET THE FULL LIST OF WHAT'S ALLOWED

The District offers three shelters with electricity: Kerry Sheridan Grove, Riverview Farmstead and Lakeside Shelter.

Picnic permit fees

Picnic shelters

  • Will County resident: $70
  • Nonresident: $140 

Large capacity shelters

Shelters with a capacity of 150 people or more include Bluegill Hill at Monee Reservoir, Hickory Hollow at Hickory Creek, Island Shelter at Isle a la Cache, Meadowlark Shelter at Goodenow Grove Prairie Bluff Shelter at Prairie Bluff and Lakeside Shelter at Whalon Lake.

Call 815-727-8700 or go online to check availability.

  • Will County resident: $100 
  • Nonresident: $200 

Picnic grove

The Monee Grove at Monee Reservoir in Monee has a capacity of 100 people. Call 708-534-8499 to check availability.

  • Will County resident: $45
  • Nonresident: $90 

Picnic permit rules and regulations

The following rules and regulations must be agreed to prior to obtaining a picnic permit. Please read if you are interested in obtaining a picnic permit. All preserve rules must also be followed while visiting a District preserve. 

  1. The permit holder is subject to all rules and regulations contained in the Forest Preserve District of Will County's General Use Ordinance No. 124, the Illinois Criminal Code, the Illinois Vehicle Code, and the Illinois Game and Fish Codes.
  2. By signing this waiver, permit holder is acknowledging receipt of the Additional Amenities Information Waiver which contains more information about extra equipment permitted and prohibited in the preserve. 
  3. Falsification of information and/or violation of rules, regulations, or District ordinances will result in the denial and/or revocation of the permit, forfeiture of the fees, fines, and/or the cancellation/termination of the permitted event. 
  4. Permit holder must be 18 years of age or older and must be present during the reservation. 
  5. All permit sales are final. Refunds will not be given for canceled reservations. The District is not responsible for permitted events canceled due to inclement weather. 
  6. The permit is valid only for the date, time, and name listed on the permit. 
  7. Attendance must not exceed the amount listed on the permit. 
  8. Public events such as fundraisers, races, organized walks, organized runs, rallies, pet adoptions, bike rides, etc. require an additional event permit. Visit the District website www.reconnectwithnature.org for an event application or call 815-727-8700. 
  9. Inflatable bounce houses must be supplied by an FPDWC approved vendor. Water slides are prohibited. Visit the District website www.reconnectwithnature.org for a list of vendors. Or call 815-727-8700. 
  10. Music should not be audible beyond the immediate vicinity, nor should it disturb other visitors or permitted groups. 
  11. No driving or parking on the grass, sidewalks, or trails. Vehicles are only permitted in designated parking areas and on roadways. 
  12. Affixing anything (tents, signs, banners, balloons, piñatas, etc.) to trees, District signs, shelters, structures, or buildings is prohibited. Strapping, pinning, gluing, or stapling to any shelter post, table, or other District structure is prohibited. 
  13. Gathering firewood or any flora/fauna is prohibited. 
  14. Cutting trees, limbs, or shrubs is prohibited. 
  15. Start fires only in designated fire pits or grills. Building fires on the grass is prohibited. Fires must be extinguished before the reservation end time. Dispose of hot coals in fire pits and grills only. 
  16. Propane heaters and portable firepits are not allowed. 
  17. Fireworks and other pyrotechnics are strictly prohibited. 
  18. Use of devices capable of discharging a projectile is prohibited. 
  19. The sale and/or solicitation of any product or service is prohibited. 
  20. Glitter, rice, silly string, confetti, birdseed, and water balloons are prohibited. 
  21. The release of balloons is prohibited. 
  22. Dogs must be leashed. Leashes in excess of 10 feet are not allowed. Owners must clean up after dogs. 
  23. All trash must be cleaned up and placed in designated trash receptacles upon departure. 
  24. Permit holder and all guests must exit the preserve at the end time listed on the permit. 
  25. The District reserves the right to close and/or limit access within the preserves during regular hours when safety and/or weather conditions warrant such actions. 
  26. The District assumes no liability for injuries that occur as a result of the permitted event. 
  27. Call 911 in an emergency. 
  28. In a non-emergency, call the Will County Sheriff's dispatch at 815-727-6191 to reach a Forest Preserve officer. 

I agree to the Rules and Regulations as stated above and will abide by the Forest Preserve District of Will County General Regulation Use Ordinance No. 124. I agree not to hold the Forest Preserve District of Will County liable for any loss or damage to persons or property arising from my use of the facilities or engaging in the activity for which this permit is granted. 

I agree to defend and hold harmless the Forest Preserve District of Will County from any and all claims or actions brought by myself, my heirs, my guests, contractors or invitees, brought as a result of the exercise of the rights granted under this permit. 

I read and understand the rules of the Forest Preserve for the public lands and their usage. I attest that the information I have provided is factual, accurate and honestly represents the nature of my event and intent. Failure to abide by any of the above rules leaves the permit holder liable and susceptible to receiving a ticket and/or suspension from District property by Forest Preserve District of Will County Police.