Maps and Guides

Have an Accessible Visit

The Morton Arboretum welcomes guests of all abilities and strives to create a safe, enjoyable, and engaging experience for all.

Content Detail

Before You Visit

This guide provides detailed information about navigating the Arboretum with accessibility needs.

We strive to offer a meaningful experience for all members and guests. If you have any questions or suggestions for how the Arboretum can meet specific needs, please contact Visitor Services at 630-968-0074 or trees@mortonarb.org.

Please call Visitor Services on the day of your visit to find out about trail or garden closures, grounds maintenance, and prescribed burn activity, which generates smoke in areas of the Arboretum.

In an outdoor institution, the conditions of paths and trails change daily with the weather.

Companion Admission

  • Admission is free for one person, such as a medical companion, who can assist a guest with special needs. Advance reservation is required. To reserve a ticket, please email tickets@mortonarb.org.
  • For more information about companion admission, please contact the Visitor Services team at 630-968-0074 or email trees@mortonarb.org.

Service Animals

  • Service animals (including those that are in training) are welcome to accompany guests to The Morton Arboretum. Please let the gatehouse attendants know that you have a service animal with you when you enter the Arboretum. 
  • Pets are not permitted except on select dates. Consequently, staff or visitors may inquire about your service animal if it is not wearing a vest or label.

Accessible Parking

  • Guests will find 33 parking lots along the roads winding through the Arboretum. Parking attendants in the main lots will direct visitors with a visible accessible parking placard to the nearest available accessible parking space. These placards can be hard to see when hanging from a rearview mirror. Please make sure the placard is visible to a parking attendant by holding it out of the driver’s side window if possible.
  • Guests are also welcome to use the drop-off circle in front of the Visitor Center. If you need directions to the drop-off circle, a gatehouse attendant or parking attendant will be happy to direct you.
  • The Arboretum’s lots vary in size and surface. Parking Lot 1 (P1) has accessible parking spaces and is close to the Visitor Center, Plant Clinic, Ginkgo Restaurant, Arboretum Store, and Children’s Garden.
  • The distance from the furthest parking spot to the main entrance of the Visitor Center is one-quarter of a mile. The nearest accessible trail is the Meadow Lake Path.
  • P1 is an environmentally friendly parking lot with uneven pavers. The accessible parking spaces and pathways to the Visitor Center feature smooth pavers. For more information on P1, including a photo of the pavers and information about the benefits to the environment, please see Main Parking Lot (PDF).
  • On days with high visitation, P1 is frequently at capacity and incoming traffic is directed to the next closest parking lots.
  • Parking Lot 21 (P21) is a paved asphalt parking lot located at the Thornhill Education Center, where the majority of the education courses take place. In addition to Thornhill Education Center, P21 is close to the Founder’s Room, Fragrance Garden, and Thornhill Shelter.

 

Wheelchairs and Power Scooters

  • (Currently unavailable due to COVID-19 mitigations) Manual wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Visitor Center during operating hours. The loan is complimentary. Visitors are asked to provide a photo ID in exchange for use of the wheelchair for the day. 
  • Please note that during days of high visitation, including special events, wheelchair availability can be limited. Please inquire in the Visitor Center as soon as you arrive to check availability. 
  • Should you need to charge your personal scooter or power wheelchair, there are a limited number of outlets in the Visitor Center. 
  • The Morton Arboretum is not responsible for lost items or damage to the scooter or wheelchair while it is left to charge. 

Accessible Restrooms, Water Fountains, and Buildings

  • The Visitor Center, Ginkgo Café, and Arboretum Store are wheelchair-accessible spaces. For specific accessibility questions, please contact the Visitor Services team at 630-968-0074 or trees@mortonarb.org.
  • Accessible restrooms are located in the Visitor Center (both East and West Pavilions), Children’s Garden, Big Rock Visitor Station, and Prairie Visitor Station. 
  • Accessible drinking fountains, where you can also fill a water bottle, are available in the Visitor Center (first floor). 

Accessible Trails

The Arboretum is divided into two sides, lying on either side of Illinois Route 53 and connected by an underpass. Each side has several accessible areas. Please consult the East Side map and West Side map before your visit.

The East Side is the larger of the two sections and contains some of the best-loved and most heavily visited locations on the grounds. You can find the Visitor Center, Meadow Lake, Children’s Garden, and Administration and Research Center on this side of the Arboretum.

Meadow Lake

Meadow Lake Path (P1) loops around a manmade lake located directly outside the Visitor Center. Depending on the season, guests can see birds, turtles, and native prairie plantings from this partially shaded paved path.

  • Length: 0.6 miles
  • Estimated time: 25 to 45 minutes
  • Surface: paved asphalt
  • Typical grade: 3%
  • Maximum grade: 8%

Children’s Garden

The Children’s Garden (P1) spans over four acres of space and encompasses two main garden areas: Backyard Discovery Garden and Adventure Woods. These two areas are linked by the Central Plaza and include 10 different themed gardens. You can learn more about each of these themed gardens on the Children’s Garden page. The vast majority of the Children’s Garden is accessed by paved paths and accessible wooden bridges. Several areas of the garden have additional routes of entry by rope bridge, stairs, or ladders.

  • Size: 4 acres
  • Estimated time: 30 minutes to 3 hours
  • Surface: concrete and paved asphalt
  • Typical grade: 2%
  • Maximum grade: 6%

Ground Cover Garden

Ground Cover Garden (P1) can be enjoyed by a short path that links the Visitor Center area to the Administration and Research Center. Depending on the time of year, this garden hosts up to 350 different species of plants.

  • Length: 0.15 mile
  • Estimated time: 10 to 30 minutes
  • Surface: paved asphalt
  • Typical grade: 0.5%
  • Maximum grade: 5%

Administration and Research Center

The Administration and Research Center contains the Sterling Morton Library and the Cudahy Room. Guests are welcome to use the library during open hours, and members may obtain a library card and check out books from the collection. Some classes and events will take place in the Cudahy Room. The Library Parking Lot can be accessed by taking a right at the stop sign after passing the gatehouse, and then taking the first left. Parking here is limited, and additional parking is located in P1.

Big Rock Visitor Station

Big Rock Visitor Station Interpretive Path (P13) is an accessible trail that begins at the visitor station. Guests will see a sampler of ecosystems along the trail. This trail is made of textured concrete and is just under a quarter of a mile. The Big Rock Visitor Station is also the trailhead for the Heritage Trail and the Woodland Trail and provides access to Main Trail Loop 3. These trails from the Big Rock Visitor Station are wood chipped. This visitor station has a picnic area on gravel and accessible portable toilets.

  • Length: .2 mile
  • Estimated time: 10 to 25 minutes
  • Surface: textured concrete
  • Typical grade: 2%
  • Maximum grade: 7%

Thornhill Education Center

On the West Side, the Thornhill Education Center (P21) hosts many of the classes that are offered by The Morton Arboretum. The building has two floors, with the majority of classes taking place on the lower level, which can be accessed by stairs or an elevator. The accessible entrance is on the east side of the building. There are accessible parking spaces near the start of the ramp.

Prairie Visitor Station

The Prairie Visitor Station Interpretive Path (P25) is an accessible trail that is a quarter-mile long and paved. The trail winds through a sample prairie, gives views of the Schulenberg Prairie, and takes guests past the remains of a 19th-century barn.

  • Length: .2 mile
  • Estimated time: 15 to 25 minutes
  • Surface: textured concrete
  • Typical grade: 5%
  • Maximum grade: 10%

The Prairie Visitor Station is also the starting point for the Prairie Trail (gravel surface) and Acre Trail (mown grass) and provides access to Main Trail Loop 4 (wood-chipped surface). This visitor station has a picnic area on gravel. There are also accessible portable toilets at the Prairie Visitor Station.

 

Web Accessibility Statement

The Morton Arboretum is committed to making mortonarb.org accessible to all its visitors, including those with visual and related disabilities. We have taken a number of steps to ensure that those who use a keyboard solely for navigation, require accommodations for certain vision needs or are using assistive technologies such as screen readers, can more easily interact with the content and applications on mortonarb.org. We have been guided in these efforts by federal regulation issued pursuant the Rehabilitation Act that are designed to make websites more accessible as well as by guidelines promulgated by the World Wide Web Consortium. Key accessibility features on mortonarb.org include:

  • Alternative text for appropriate images and non-text visual elements
  • Heading structures for page elements
  • Skip navigation links within the header
  • Labels for forms and appropriate input fields
  • Data table markup

The Morton Arboretum will periodically monitor and test the functionality of mortonarb.org and will work proactively to find new ways to enhance the overall usability of our website. Email website@mortonarb.org to submit any feedback related to this website’s accessibility.

 

Additional Support

For questions about accessibility, please contact the Visitor Services team at 630-968-0074 or trees@mortonarb.org.

Visual Schedules

  • The Arboretum offers visual schedules to assist guests with individual special needs. Visual schedules are map-based tools that help guests plan their visit and are specifically designed for those on the autism spectrum or with learning or developmental disabilities.
  • The Arboretum’s Visual Schedule book includes maps for the Visitor Center Area, Meadow Lake Path, Children’s Garden, and Thornhill Area. 
  • The books are available on a first-come, first-served basis for use while at the Arboretum and can be checked out from the Information Desk in the Visitor Center. The loan is complimentary with a photo ID.

American Sign Language

  • Sign language interpretation is offered for scheduled programs and events. If you need to schedule American Sign Language interpretation,  please indicate this when you register or purchase tickets.
  • You can also email Visitor Services at trees@mortonarb.org at least three weeks prior to the program and staff can schedule an interpreter, subject to availability.

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