Plan a Visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Most Asked Questions Section

General Questions

  • Bicycles and bicycling are allowed on Arboretum roads only. Please ride in the same direction as car traffic, and as far to the right as possible. Riders should stay in single file to allow cars to pass.

  • Dogs may attend only on designated Dog Admission Days or Tails on the Trails events, as additional staff and volunteers are required. Dog tickets are $5, in addition to their human companions’ admission. Service dogs are welcome every day and must be identified to the gatehouse attendant when entering. Visitors who arrive with pets will be directed to exit. Please note that dogs are not allowed in buildings. Portable restrooms are available for human use. For information about future dog admission events, see this webpage.

  • The Morton Arboretum Plant Clinic can help answer your tree and plant health questions year-round. Please email plantclinic@mortonarb.org with your questions or call 630-719-2424.

  • The Arboretum provides beautiful natural backdrops and luxurious spaces for memorable weddings. Please see Weddings and Receptions for information.

  • The Arboretum has a variety of indoor and outdoor venues for every occasion. Please complete an event inquiry form for more information about hosting your event at the Arboretum.

  • See the Acorn Express Tram Tours page for details. The tram schedule is variable and changes from day to day based on weather and driver availability. Tram tickets are not available for advance purchase and are only sold at the Visitor Center Information Desk for that day’s tour. Tickets cannot be purchased over the phone, online, or for another day.

  • For visitor safety, please leave scooters, rollerblades, skateboards, e-scooters, kites, drones, and other sports equipment at home. Seated personal mobility scooters (for physical assistance) are allowed on the Arboretum’s paved trails and roads.

  • Permits are required for professionally conducted formal photography and videography for private personal and commercial events and activities. Permit sales are subject to availability, and permits must be applied for at least three days in advance of photo shoots. Click here for more information about fees, schedules, and regulations. Drone photography is not allowed at the Arboretum.

Timed-Entry

  • Yes. Member passes and guest tickets can be reserved for one day per transaction. To book additional dates, please reserve them through individual transactions.

  • Free passes or discounts for special category visitors such as reciprocal garden members require that timed-entry tickets be purchased online, and a request for refund be made at the Visitor Center information desk between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Members of reciprocal gardens are eligible for up to two free general admission tickets each visit. Reciprocal benefits do not extend to special event tickets.

  • There is no limit on the time guests may spend at the Arboretum, until closing.

  • Members of the President’s Council and Thornhill Society do not need to reserve advance timed-entry passes. These members will be provided specific credentials to be displayed upon their arrival at the gatehouse for entry at any time. Interested in joining the President’s Council or Thornhill Society? Learn more.

  • The Arboretum provides free admission for active duty military members and their families by presenting a valid military or military family ID at the gatehouse. Timed-entry passes are not required for admission.

  • A new entry process is in place for employees of Arboretum Corporate Partners that requires advanced reservations for timed-entry tickets. Previously distributed Corporate Partner admission passes are no longer accepted. To learn how to request timed-entry tickets through this program, please email mfoster@mortonarb.org for assistance.

  • Through the Arboretum’s participation in the Museums for All program, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cardholders may obtain timed-entry passes in advance of their visits by emailing tickets@mortonarb.org with their desired date, time, and number of tickets, as well as a phone number so a staff member can reach out to finalize the order. Guests may purchase up to eight passes in this way. Requests must be made 72 hours in advance of the visit. Guests will show their EBT card and timed-entry pass at the gatehouse for entry.

  • Timed-entry pass and ticket holders have a one-hour time window to enter, beginning at the designated entry date and time noted on the pass. Entry will not be available prior to the time on your pass, or beyond one hour after that time.

  • Members and guests will show their timed-entry pass or ticket to the gatehouse attendant, either on their phones or printed documents, for scanning with no touch entry. Members of the President’s Council and Thornhill Society do not need advance passes and will be provided specific credentials to be displayed upon their arrival at the gatehouse for entry at any time. Masks must be worn when interacting with gatehouse staff.

  • For assistance, please email the ticket line at tickets@mortonarb.org and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

  • Guests of members may arrive in a separate car as long as they also have their own timed-entry reservation barcode.

  • Free passes or discounts require that timed-entry tickets be purchased online, and a request for refund (with the surrender of the valid pass/coupon) can be made on the day of their visit, at the Visitor Center information desk between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Once reserved, tickets are final and cannot be exchanged for another date. Timed-entry ticketing is the only method for admission, and it is a change from the Arboretum’s previous admission process. Tickets will not be available at the gatehouse.

  • Members of reciprocal gardens are eligible for up to two (2) free general admission tickets each visit. Reciprocal benefits do not extend to special event tickets. Reciprocal program members may receive the benefit offered by the issuing institution by purchasing a timed-entry guest ticket in advance online, then bringing your receipt and membership card or other membership identification to the Visitor Services desk in the Visitor Center between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. for a refund. If you have questions, please email tickets@mortonarb.org or call 630-725-2066 between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. You can check to see if your garden membership is part of the program on the American Horticultural Society website.

  • Contact Visitor Services in advance of your visit. Please email tickets@mortonarb.org and provide your name and free ticket credentials to reserve your tickets. Your tickets will be delivered by email within 24 to 48 hours. Ticket availability is not guaranteed and same-day reservations cannot be processed. Once reserved, tickets are final and cannot be exchanged for another date. Timed-entry ticketing is the only method for admission, and it is a change from the Arboretum’s previous admission process. Tickets will not be available at the gatehouse.

COVID-19 Adjustments

  • Facial coverings are optional for fully vaccinated individuals. If you are not yet fully vaccinated, please follow State of Illinois guidance and wear a mask indoors and outdoors when within six feet of those not in your party.

  • Manual wheelchairs and strollers are not available for loan at this time. Personal wheelchairs and strollers are welcome.

  • The restrooms inside the Visitor Center and the West Pavilion are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. They are cleaned throughout the day and fully closed for 30 minutes every two hours for a sanitizing deep cleaning. The restrooms at the Thornhill Picnic Shelter remain closed until further notice. Portable restrooms are available throughout the Arboretum, including in the bus lot (Visitor Center parking area), Big Rock Visitor Station (Parking lot 13 on the East Side), and Prairie Visitor Station (Parking lot 25 on the West Side).

  • The Children’s Garden must comply with State of Illinois Restore Illinois reopening guidelines, necessitating a limited numbers of guests inside at one time. The Children’s Garden can accommodate a large number of guests, but when the space is full, there may be a wait to enter until space is available.

  • The Visitor Center is open 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. daily, with a moderated number of guests allowed inside at one time. The Arboretum Store is open 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., serving a limited number of shoppers at a time. It is also offering online ordering for delivery or curbside pickup and video conference one-on-one shopping experiences with the sales staff (call 630-719-2454).

    The Ginkgo Restaurant is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays, 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. The Ginkgo Café is open daily 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., with carry-out food and beverage options. Cash and cashless payments are accepted. Tables are available in Arbor Court for restaurant and café customers Wednesdays through Sundays, 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to picnic outdoors and bring their own food and beverages, while ensuring that they use trash cans and leave no trash on the grounds.

    All other buildings remain closed to the public until further notice, in compliance with the state’s Restore Illinois phased reopening plan.

  • At this time, access to the collections of the Sterling Morton Library is available via curbside service. Returns and material pickup is available at curbside by appointment only, and may be scheduled via library@mortonarb.org or 630-719-2429. Appointments are available Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. In addition to making an appointment, patrons will need to reserve a timed-entry ticket or timed-entry member pass for admission to the grounds.

    • Holds may be placed on items from the library’s collection via SWAN or by calling 630-719-2429.
    • Wait to receive confirmation that books are ready and arrange for a pickup time (Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m). Along with scheduling a curbside pickup appointment with library staff, a timed-entry ticket is required for Arboretum entrance.
    • Park in the parking lot adjacent to the library and call 630-719-2429 to let staff know you have arrived.
    • A staff member will meet patrons at their cars in the parking lot.

    Please note:

    • Materials will be quarantined for three days before they are returned to the shelves or placed in interlibrary loan delivery bins.
    • The May T. Watts Reading Garden is open, with access through the outside gate only. There is no access to the library from the exterior door.
    • The library’s digital collections are always available via ACORN and the eBook Collection.

Membership

  • Timed-entry passes are required for all members and guests (including children and infants) and help ensure paced arrivals and moderated attendance numbers. (Note: Passes are not required for President’s Council or Thornhill Society members).

  • The Morton Arboretum is The Champion of Trees, blending science and splendor, providing beautiful landscapes where people can enjoy and learn about trees and nature. Every membership supports the Arboretum’s vital work to plant and protect trees for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.  Members receive special benefits, including free admission and parking, a 15% or greater discount on educational classes, 10% off most purchases at The Arboretum Store, reciprocal admission to more than 300 arboreta and botanical gardens, invitations to member-only events, and much more!

  • The two-year membership option when you join or renew is the best value. Two-year members receive $10 savings, invitations to exclusive member Enrichment Events, free Acorn Express tram tour vouchers, and a  gift voucher that may be redeemed in The Arboretum Store.

  • Members may reserve timed-entry passes for up to the number of people who are included within their membership level’s admission benefit. For example, a Morton 4 level member may reserve up to four timed-entry passes. Members may purchase up to two guest passes above their membership benefit level for $5 each. Once that maximum is reached, they have the option to purchase full-priced guest tickets.

  • The email address you’re logging in with may not match the email address we have on file for your membership record. Please email membersmail@mortonarb.org for assistance.

  • For a copy of your membership receipt or transaction record for tax purposes please email membersmail@mortonarb.org.

  • To purchase a gift membership online, select a membership level for your gift recipient. Then follow the prompts and complete your transaction. You may also purchase a gift membership on-site by visiting the Member Services Desk in the Arboretum’s Visitor Center, or by calling the Membership Hotline at 630-719-2453, which is available daily from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

  • The Arboretum offers free admission to all active-duty servicemen and women as well as free admission to veterans on Veterans Day each year. The Morton 1 level membership provides a cost-conscious option for seniors, students, and others on a budget.

  • To see if your company is a corporate partner of the Arboretum, or if you qualify for a corporate membership discount, please check the Arboretum corporate partners list, or contact your company’s Human Resources office.  To offer employees the benefits of membership, consider a corporate partnership with the Arboretum.

  • To renew your membership online, you will need both your membership number (found on your membership card) and the last name of the primary cardholder on your membership account. Sign in to the portal, click the “renew” button, and follow the prompts.

  • Gatehouse staff are not able to look up member numbers. A membership card must be shown with your timed-entry pass. The Membership Hotline 630-719-2453 is available from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily to look up card numbers or to request replacement membership cards (calls will be returned within 48 hours). There is a $5 fee for cards to be reprinted.

  • The cost of membership to The Morton Arboretum is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. The value of benefits received is insubstantial and the cost of membership is fully deductible. Please consult your tax advisor.

  • Member contact information may be updated by emailing membersmail@mortonarb.org or by calling the Membership Hotline 630-719-2453 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily (calls will be returned within 48 hours). To expedite your request, please include your membership identification number (located on your membership card) as well as the information you would like to update. Please note that at this time, member record updates are not able to be completed through the online member portal.

  • The Morton Arboretum is a member of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) and members of the Arboretum enjoy special admission privileges, in addition to possible discounts on gift shop purchases and special events at more than 330 botanical gardens and horticultural organizations across North America through the Reciprocal Admission Program (RAP). Check the state-by-state directory of participating gardens for participating organizations, or call the gardens prior to your visit. Please note that The Morton Arboretum follows the 90-mile exclusion rule, with the exception of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Field Trips

  • Virtual Outreach Programs are available by grade level for Pre-K through 8th grade. Hour-long live programs aligned to Next Generation Science Standards are conducted on Zoom with an Education Program Guide for a nominal fee. Prerecorded virtual visit videos that explore different areas of the Arboretum are included in the free Virtual Learning Bundles.

  • The Arboretum offers a Youth Science Education Outreach Grant to schools serving 40% or more low-income families, according to the Illinois Report Card. Grant applications open in late May or early June and are first come, first served. For inquiries, please email mkuhl-horbin@mortonarb.org or call 630-725-2118.

  • Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, free admission for teachers will not be available until further notice.

  • Discovery Bins, or Teacher Checkout Bins, are FREE loaned resources developed by the Arboretum for teachers to implement in their classroom instruction. Each bin contains materials, tools, lessons, and activities aligned to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Bins are organized by grade level and are aligned with the Arboretum’s field trip offerings. To check out a bin or for more information, visit Classroom Items for Loan.

  • A variety of programs are offered by grade level in both guided and self-guided formats. Full-day (9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.) and half-day (9:30 a.m.–11:00 a.m. or 11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m.) programs are available for all grade levels. Lab field trip programs can be added to half-day guided field trips for grades 3 and up to make the experience a full-day program. Guided options can be combined with self-guided options to create both facilitated and free exploration experiences. Full-day field trips (guided or self-guided or a guided combination) are $12 per student, with a $30 registration fee. Half-day guided field trips are $8 per student, with a $15 registration fee. Self-guided field trips (full- or half-day) are $6 per student, with a $15 registration fee.

  • To arrange a field trip, complete a request form on the grade level page of field trip offerings. Registration for fall field trips (September–early November) opens in early August, for spring (April–May) in early January, and for summer (June–August) in early May. Registration for field trips should be completed at least four weeks in advance of when you would like to visit. After the request form has been submitted, the registration office will contact you within two weeks regarding date availability and program selection. Payment for your field trip is required three weeks prior to your visit.

  • Three free adult chaperones or teachers per 20 students may attend your field trip. For example, for 21 students, you may bring six free adult teachers or chaperones. There is a fee for additional chaperones. Contact the registrar’s office for more information (630) 719-2468, Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. or by emailing them at registrar-ed@mortonarb.org.

  • Due to the volume of students and visitors on any given day, it is recommended that you arrive at your scheduled arrival time so we can best accommodate your group.

  • You cannot have food delivered to the Arboretum and teachers and students are encouraged to bring their own brown bag lunch from home. You can, however, order boxed lunches from the Arboretum’s exclusive caterers, but this is a separate cost from your field trip. To place a lunch order for your group, work directly with Ginkgo Catering.

  • We offer a number of educator courses. Browse our Learning for Teachers page.

Prescribed Burns

  • Those are the results of prescribed burns (also called controlled burns), an essential practice for restoring and maintaining healthy natural areas at the Arboretum. Trained stewards use safe techniques to burn dead stalks and undergrowth. This practice is essential to the health of native plants and the birds and other wildlife that depend on them. Forests managed with controlled burns are not only healthier, but safer. Without periodic controlled burns, dry, dead undergrowth builds up and eventually can provide fuel for dangerous forest fires.

  • Small areas are burned at a time in a very controlled way. The stewards who conduct the burns are highly trained and use special safety equipment. A technician uses a special torch to burn away the undergrowth in a small area, while others help extinguish the fire as soon as it is safe and has done its work. The flames stay low and contained. Ideally, the fires go out by themselves, but technicians are always nearby to douse them if needed.

  • Burns are only conducted when the weather is appropriate, with no high winds to spread the fire or blow smoke off the site. Arboretum guests do not have access to areas with active burns. Every controlled burn at the Arboretum has the required permits.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency has found that smoke from prescribed burns has no significant effect on air quality.

  • Prescribed burns are done only when there is dead, dried plant material that is not wet from rain or snow. Most burns are undertaken in early spring, when dead stalks and leaves are still on the ground but spring rains have not yet started. Some are done in autumn, after trees’ leaves have fallen but before it snows. Burns are only done on days with little wind, when no rain or snow is forecast.

  • Fire is a normal part of the life cycle of natural ecosystems in many areas of the United States. Before non-Native settlers inhabited the Midwest, Indigenous Peoples used fire to burn prairies and woodlands. Non-Native settlers, however, did not use fire, which allowed invasive plants and other woody vegetation to grow thick in natural areas beginning in the late 1800s. In the last half-century, scientists who study ecology have come to understand how crucial fire is to maintaining prairie and oak-dominated woodland ecosystems. The Arboretum recognizes the importance of Indigenous ecological knowledge and seeks to better incorporate it into its work and understanding of this landscape.

  • The Arboretum has been conducting controlled burns on the prairie since the 1960s and throughout its other natural areas, including woodlands, since the 1980s.

  • Burns help control many weedy and invasive plants that compete with native plants. In spring, the black soil that is left after a burn absorbs sunlight and warms up quickly, so seeds can germinate and native plants can start growing. The ash from burned plants recycle nutrients back to the soil.

  • Within two to three weeks in spring, prairie plants will sprout and grow back taller, more vigorous, and often with more flowers. When a prescribed burn is done on the forest floor, wildflowers are usually more abundant the next spring. If you look closely, you may see evidence of fire, such as lightly charred fallen logs, but in general, burns make the woods and the prairie more green and beautiful.

  • The fire consumes only the dried-out top growth, which has already died. The roots and growing points of the plants are still alive, safe underground, ready to sprout once the ground is cleared by the fire. Since these native plants evolved with fire, they are well adapted to regular burning. Some plants’ seeds even need fire to sprout.

  • Oak trees, which dominate our woodlands, have thick, fire-resistant bark and tolerate fires as a normal part of their life cycle. Controlled burns in the woods do burn away many small tree seedlings, but this helps keep the woodlands open and filled with sunlight, which helps other saplings grow. Burning conserves the forest ecosystem overall.

  • Prescribed burning is a fundamental and widespread practice for managing natural areas. Burns are conducted in many state and national parks, forest preserves, national forests, and other natural areas.

  • The Arboretum offers classes through its Natural Areas Conservation Training (N-ACT) Program.

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