Whalon Lake, one of the most popular preserves in Will County, now has a larger picnic shelter with a gorgeous water view.
Lakeside Shelter is nestled on the edge of the preserve’s 80-acre lake, a perfect location for outdoor family reunions, wedding parties, birthday celebrations, retirement parties and general get-togethers. The shelter’s construction was completed earlier this month and it replaces a smaller shelter that was created at the site when Whalon Lake opened.
“When we developed the site, we wanted to provide a shady spot for small gatherings at the lake,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve’s chief operating officer. “But we did construct the parking lot with enough spaces to accommodate a larger shelter in the future.”
In 2018, the District decided to move forward with the installation of the larger shelter to complete the planned development for the site, Schultz explained.
The shelter can accommodate up to 150 people, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor rentals are being limited to 50 or less at this time.
Even with the capacity restrictions, members of the public have been eagerly anticipating this new outdoor picnicking opportunity.
“Patrons from all over the county have been calling to inquire about using the new and much larger Lakeside Shelter,” said Jenna Newcomb, the Forest Preserve’s permit administrator. “People are excited about the prospect of having their upcoming gatherings at this location due to its close proximity to the lake and the beautiful views it provides. It is especially desirable at this time because it is one of the District’s larger shelters offering guests the ability to comfortably social distance while enjoying their functions with friends and family.”
In addition to private gatherings, the shelter also will be used for Forest Preserve programs and events in the future when pandemic restrictions are lifted. And the shelter will be a popular spot for organizations to host their functions, said Lynn Kurczewski, the Forest Preserve’s director of visitor services.
“When we’ve had requests from groups to host larger events such as fishing derbies at the lake in the past, we weren’t able to accommodate them,” she said. “But this new shelter will provide space for 50 or less now and more when larger gatherings become safe again.”
The previous shelter had a capacity of only 25 and was rarely used.
Picnic permits for Lakeside Shelter and other picnic pavilions throughout the District can be purchased online or in person. For details visit the Forest Preserve’s Picnicking Page. The cost for Lakeside Shelter is $70 for residents and $140 for non-residents. Prices vary based on the size of shelters. A permit is required for all groups of 25 or more to use a shelter.
Whalon Lake is located on Royce Road, west of Route 53/Bolingbrook Drive. The preserve is split between Bolingbrook and Naperville with the lake being in Bolingbrook and the dog park being in Naperville.