Downers Grove Park District • 2455 Warrenville Road • Downers Grove, IL 60515 • (630) 963-1304 •

Discover our Natural Areas!

CLICK HERE to check out the virtual tour of Lyman Woods!
CLICK HERE to view the PDF map of Lyman Woods!

Downers Grove Park District thanks Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association for funding four scholarships for the beekeeping camp at Lyman Woods this summer!

Visit the Downers Grove Natural Areas, Lyman Woods and Belmont Prairie, and discover the wonders of nature! Come out for an invigorating walk on the trails or a peaceful encounter with nature. Explore and enjoy the seasonal changes of forest, prairie, and marsh. Spend some time searching for amazing plants, buzzing insects, boisterous song birds, and elusive mammals. Bring your camera for stunning photos!

Deer at Lyman WoodsLyman Woods
Lyman Woods is 150 acres of oak woods, prairie, and marsh habitats that supports over 300 species of native plants. Discover an amazing diversity of plant life, including six species classified as rare in the Chicago region. Catch a glimpse of animals including deer, coyote, fox, Cooper's Hawks, Great Horned Owls, a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, insects, and numerous songbirds.

During your visit, you'll find three rare kames, glacially deposited hills of gravel, which support native prairie and oak woods. The most outstanding feature is a 19-acre oak woods that has remained undisturbed since it was purchased by the Lyman family in 1839. Today it serves as one of the few examples of the pre-settlement landscape that dominated the Downers Grove area.

The preservation of Lyman Woods in 1987 represents the cooperative effort of the Village of Downers Grove, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the Downers Grove Park District, and many dedicated individuals.

Lyman Woods Interpretive CenterWilliam F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center
William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center is your starting off point foryour exploration of Lyman Woods. The William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center is a green building exemplifying the latest in environmentally friendly building practices and technology. Discover native landscaping, a butterfly garden, and rain gardens outside the building. Don't forget to look up and spot native prairie plants growing on the roof! Inside the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center you will find changing exhibits and activities, programs, restrooms, drinking fountains, and first aid. Bring a lunch or snack to enjoy at our outdoor picnic area. Feel free to ask questions of our talented naturalist staff. Programs can be arranged by calling the Interpretive Center at (630) 963-9388.

William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center Hours

September 1 - May 31

Closed Monday  
Tuesday - Thursday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Friday 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 pm

William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center Hours

June 1 - August 31

Monday - Saturday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 - 4:00 pm

Lyman Woods is located east of Highland Avenue between Good Samaritan Hospital on the south and 31st Street on the north. Parking is available at the William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center at 901 31st Street.

Explore Lyman Woods!

Belmont Prairie

Belmont Prairie is one of the last original prairies in Illinois. It is an excellent example of one of the few remaining natural prairie habitats that is maintained by the Downers Grove Park District.  The efforts of the District have been rewarded by the Prairie's official designation by the State as an Illinois Nature Preserve, supporting more than 300 species of plant and animal wildlife.  It is an excellent educational and cultural resource for the benefit of District residents and visitors from farther afield.  The Prairie contains a wide variety of quadra-seasonal grasses and other plants in an undisturbed setting.  The animal wildlife that may be observed includes fox, raccoons, meadow voles, opossums, ground squirrels, garter snakes and, occasionally, coyote and white-tailed deer. A nature trail provides pedestrian access.  The prairie is served by a 6 car parking lot located on Cross Street.

The Belmont Prairie is located west of the Downers Grove Golf Course at Haddow Avenue and Cross Street. Parking is available at the trail head on Cross Street.

Dawn to dusk.  Pease note: There are no dogs, bikes, or cross-country skis allowed in the Natural Areas. Thank you for your cooperation.


* Guided Tours Available
* Nature Area
* Nature Trail
* 10 Acres

In December 1842, John Graves purchased two quarter-sections of prairie land from the U.S. government, west of Downers Grove.  This purchase included what are today both Belmont Prairie and the Downers Grove Golf Course.  This piece of land changed ownership numerous times until it was divided in 1890, with one half becoming the golf course and the other remaining prairie, and the block between them being developed in 1920.

Then, in April of 1970, Alfred and Margaret Dupree presented a photograph of a rare prairie wildflower to an expert at the Morton Arboretum, as they were interested if it represented possible remnants of a native prairie.  Upon inspection, it was found that the field had numerous native prairie species, and with the help of The Nature Conservancy, the owners were tracked down and the land was purchased. After officially becoming a part of the Park District, it was named an Illinois Nature Preserve in March, 1994.

If you have any questions or comments about the Natural Areas, please contact Shannon Forsythe, Manager of Natural Resources and Interpretive Services at (630) 963-9388 or via email at

Download the Belmont Prairie Map here.

Leave No Child Inside

Reconnect your kids with the great outdoors!bug hunting
Time to turn off the TV, put away the video games, and dust off your hiking boots! In his groundbreaking 2006 book, journalist Richard Louv cited kids’ lack of direct experience with nature as largely to blame for alarming increases in obesity, attention deficit disorder and poor social skills. Since the 1960s, when the amount of time children spent outdoors began to decrease, the percentage of obese children has tripled. Louv’s book has sparked a national movement to inspire parents to lead their children back into nature. William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center joins Chicago Wilderness to launch a regional initiative called Leave No Child Inside, with the goal of improving children’s health and fostering generations of children who care enough for nature to protect it. With Leave No Child Inside, William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center joins hundreds of other organizations that are members of the Chicago Wilderness consortium, an alliance of more than 200 public and private organizations working together to protect the Chicago region’s natural spaces, help conserve the diversity of plants and animals, and enrich local residents’ quality of life. William F. Sherman, Jr. Interpretive Center and other Chicago Wilderness members are experts in connecting children and adults to nature. With Leave No Child Inside, our goal is to promote children’s health through outdoor play and exploration, and foster caring for nature in today’s children and future generations. One of the greatest gifts you can give children is your love of nature. Children need regular time outdoors, so visit Lyman Woods and the Belmont Prairie with your kids to experience something new every time the weather changes. We offer wide open, natural places where your children can run, have fun, and play safely. Let your kids take the lead – with their natural curiosity, they will quickly find something to explore.

Visit for more ideas on where to go and what to do outside with your kids.


Coyote Awareness - Click here for the informational brochure
The coyote is a common resident of the Chicago suburbs. While it is not surprising to find coyotes in preserves and natural areas, sightings in parks, neighborhoods and even urban areas have become more common. Learn more about coexisting with coyotes.

Related Links

Green Buildings and Practices
Build Green Schools:
Green Home Guide:
SCARCE (Recycling Information):
US Green Buildings Council:
Chicago Center for Green Technology:

Leave No Child Inside
Child and Nature Network:
Kids Outside:

Native Plants
Conservation At Home:
Midwest Invasive Species Network:

Nature Preserves
Forest Preserve District of DuPage County:
Forest Preserve District of Cook County:
Forest Preserve District of Will County:
Lake County Forest Preserve District:
Illinois Department of Natural

Chicago Wilderness:
The Conservation Foundation:
Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance:

Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
eNature (online field guide):
Illinois Natural History Survey:

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