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Visiting tips

Mature oak trees in the Oak Collection

Our grounds are kept beautiful and healthy for research, enjoyment, and learning. We hope you take advantage of our expansive grounds, and explore the diversity of tree collections offered. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Explore with care

  • Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the Arboretum.
  • Biking and running are permitted on our nine miles of paved roads.  Runners are asked to travel against the flow of car traffic, and keep as far right on the road (in your direction of travel) as possible. We remind road users that automobiles, bicycles, and joggers are all sharing our roads. Bicyclists are asked to ride in the same direction as car traffic, keeping as far right on the road (in their direction of travel) as possible.
  • Please refrain from ball playing, kite flying, rollerblading, segwaying, riding scooters or skateboarding.
  • For the safety of visitors, drones and other remotely controlled aircraft are not allowed at the Arboretum.
  • Please leave tobacco, alcohol, glass containers, and grills at home.
  • Please leave pets at home. (Pets aren't allowed in vehicles or on the grounds, except for on specially designated days.)
  • Please no climbing on trees or hanging from branches.
  • Place all trash in garbage receptacles.
  • Park only in one of the Arboretum's 33 designated parking lots. 
  • During fall, weekends are popular days for visitation. Please allow enough time to park and get to your destination. (Up to one hour.)
  • The Morton Arboretum is a smoke and tobacco-free environment.  Smoking (including smokeless cigarettes and e-cigarettes) is not allowed indoors or outdoors within the Arboretum. 
  • Trail signs are placed strategically to show connecting trails and roads. Use them for orientation. Benches provide an opportunity to sit, relax, and enjoy the beauty of nature.
  • For maximum enjoyment of the grounds, we recommend walking on the designated hiking trails and staying off the roadways. If you are walking on a paved roadway,  please travel against the flow of car traffic, and keep as far right on the road (in your direction of travel) as possible. We remind road users that automobiles, bicycles, and joggers are all sharing our roads.
  • The Arboretum plant collections include more than 41,000 labeled specimens throughout the grounds. At times you may want to go off trail to get a closer look at collections or specimens. Please use good judgment and be aware of your footing and the terrain. Watch for poison ivy. Avoid plant damage by refraining from walking through garden beds.
  • The Arboretum lakes and ponds are for your viewing pleasure but are not accessible for swimming or fishing. 
  • The Arboretum has acquired trees and other plants from around the world for study, display, research, and propagation. Unlike indoor museums, our collections are out in the open. It is important that our members and visitors respect our living specimens.

Prepare for the outdoors

The Arboretum can be enjoyed any time of the year if you dress for the season and for walking.
All nine miles of roads are paved, and most walking trails are wood-chipped. Wear walking shoes appropriate to the season. If it is raining or has recently rained and you want to walk on trails, wear water-repellent shoes or boots.

If it is cold, or the weather is changeable, layer your clothing so you can add or remove layers to maintain your comfort level. In the summer, be prepared for mosquitoes in the early morning and at dusk; wear long sleeves and slacks or use insect repellent. Sun hats and sunscreen are also recommended if you will be in the sun.

Play clothes are highly recommended—children are likely to get wet and possibly dirty. Bathing suits are prohibited. We suggest that you bring an extra set of clothes in case your children need to change. Sandals or aqua shoes are recommended for the Secret Stream and Wonder Pond—they offer more protection than bare feet. Severe weather may result in closing the Children's Garden and Maze Garden. Call Visitor Services at 630-968-0074 after 9 a.m. for weather information.

Common pests

All natural environments, including The Morton Arboretum, are home to pesky critters. A few precautions will help you avoid possible dangers and make your outdoor experience more comfortable.

Take precautions to avoid tick bites:

  • Stay on marked trails and avoid rubbing against vegetation.
  • Wear light-colored protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, and a head covering (light colors will help you to see ticks).  Tuck trouser cuffs into socks.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to clothing, but apply to the skin only sparingly.
  • Check yourself and family members every 2 or 3 hours for ticks.  Ticks crawl slowly and seldom attach quickly.

If you find a tick, remove it promptly:

  • Ticks can be removed from clothing with the sticky side of tape.
  • The best way to remove a tick embedded in skin is to grasp it firmly with tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out.
  • Wash the bite area and apply antiseptic.

To learn more about ticks, check the following Illinois Department of Public Health web sites:

Prevention & Control: Common Ticks
Lyme Disease

Arboretum Store

In case you need something you didn't bring, The Arboretum Store has long-sleeve shirts, rain ponchos for adults and children, hand and toe warmers, sunscreen, insect repellent, and hats.

Plant sample permits

It is permissible to pick up leaves, seeds, or cones that have fallen to the ground, but please refrain from picking leaves, fruits, or seedheads from trees or other plants, or from otherwise damaging the plants. Like any museum, our collections (plants) are here to be shared with all of our visitors. Collecting plant samples at the Arboretum is allowed for the following:

  • Children's leaf collecting projects (from the ground only)
  • Arboretum class-sponsored collecting projects
  • Professional purposes, with prior permission from the Collections and Grounds program

This applies to seeds, fruits, nuts, acorns, fungi, and mushrooms as well. Enjoy everything you see and leave for others to do the same. For more information, call Visitor Services at 630-968-0074.

Wildlife at the Arboretum

Trees provide essential habitat for wildlife. All kinds of wildlife call the Arb home because we nurture and protect hundreds of thousands of trees on our 1,700 acre grounds. When encountering animals, be sensitive to their needs, and you'll see more of their natural behavior. Always remember these rules:

  • Arboretum grounds are home to squirrels, geese and other animals, so please observe but do not feed the wildlife.
  • Enjoy wildlife at a distance. If you cause an animal to move, you are too close! Use binoculars or telephoto lenses to avoid disturbing them.
  • Stay quiet and minimize noise.
  • Never get close to nests or other sensitive habitat.

Concealed Carry

The State of Illinois enacted legislation to allow permitted and trained individuals to carry a concealed firearm. The statute also outlines places where this practice is prohibited, including museums. The Morton Arboretum is an accredited museum where concealed carry of firearms is statutorily prohibited. Concealed carry permit holders are lawfully allowed to store their firearms in a case within a locked vehicle or locked container out of plain view within the vehicle while on the Arboretum grounds.

By your presence, you grant permission for your likeness to be included and used in any and all media by The Morton Arboretum and you release The Morton Arboretum from any claims or liability connected therewith.