When winter snows fall and cold winds blow, few people are likely thinking about camping or picnicking in DuPage County. But warmer days will be here again, and it’s never too early to start planning outdoor gatherings. Reservations for Forest Preserve District of DuPage County picnic areas and family and youth-group campsites for 2013 will begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.
Reservations must be made at least three business days in advance; reservations for holiday dates should be made as early as possible.
Picnickers can choose from over 20 reservable shelters and picnic areas, which are available throughout the year for family reunions, church picnics or other gatherings. Permit fees vary based on site amenities and capacities, which range from 25 to 300. Some shelters have fireplaces, built-in grills or electricity. In select areas, picnickers can also rent canopy tents or large-capacity grills.
Campers will be pleased to learn that upgrades to the family campground at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville are complete. The campground will be open May through September on Friday and Saturday nights with additional nights for holidays. A new campground map is available in the “Recreation” section of the District’s website, dupageforest.org, to assist campers in planning their visit. Over 60 sites for tents, trailers and motor homes will be available, and all offer electricity. Each site includes a gravel parking pad, fire ring and picnic tables and can accommodate a maximum of eight people and two tents. The campground offers restrooms with showers and water pumps.
Family-campground permit fees are $20 per site per night for DuPage County residents and $30 per night for nonresidents. Senior citizens may receive one free permit per household for a consecutive Friday and Saturday night stay. Campers can purchase firewood for $5 per bundle. As part of Districtwide efforts to help slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, outside firewood is not allowed.
Youth-group campgrounds are located at the following forest preserves: Blackwell in Warrenville, Churchill Woods in Glen Ellyn, Greene Valley in Naperville, Pratt’s Wayne Woods in Wayne and Waterfall Glen in Darien. Semiprimitive areas just for tents, these campgrounds are solely for use by recognized nonprofit youth groups. Permit fees vary based on site capacities, which range from 25 to 100. Open year-round, all sites have picnic tables and fire rings; latrines, firewood and water pumps are nearby. A youth-group cabin with electricity is also available at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton.
All permit fees are nonrefundable. Camping-permit holders must be at least 21 years old; picnic-permit holders must be at least 18. Permit holders must remain on site.
Application forms and facility and fee information is in the “Recreation” section of the District’s website, dupageforest.org. Located at District headquarters at 3S580 Naperville Road within Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton, Visitor Services processes applications weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be reached by phone at 630-933-7248. Cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted.
Good things happen when you explore the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s 60 forest preserves and five education facilities. For information on ways to experience conservation, education and recreation in your neck of the woods, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org.