Plan a Visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Most Asked Questions Section

General Questions

  • In keeping with the Arboretum’s commitment to the health and satisfaction of its guests and employees, smoking and tobacco use (including smokeless cigarettes) is prohibited anywhere on Arboretum property.

  • 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. Bicycles are not permitted on the walking paths and trails.

  • 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 visit in-person, 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, longboards, 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 Admission

  • In 2018 and 2019, the Arboretum experienced record-breaking attendance levels which caused significant entry lines and wait times at the gatehouse and traffic backups onto Route 53, the roadway leading into the Arboretum. Due to the pandemic and State of Illinois guidelines at the time, in June of 2020, the Arboretum adopted advance timed-entry admission for all guests including members. The new process greatly reduced wait times at the gatehouse, providing a streamlined and predictable entry experience. Timed-entry admission has also eliminated traffic backups onto Route 53. Due to the significant benefits, the Arboretum is continuing timed-entry admission. If you have any challenges reserving admission, we are happy to assist you (tickets@mortonarb.org).

  • Yes, each member or guest, including children and infants, must have an advance reservation to enter the Arboretum at a specific date and time. Tickets are not available at the gatehouse. Timed-entry passes are not required for President’s Council or Thornhill Society members.

    Entry times are honored for one hour after the time on the entry pass or ticket; those who arrive outside that one-hour window may be denied entry.

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

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

  • 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. 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 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

  • 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 general daytime 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. Free admission is not available for special ticketed events.

  • 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 trecchia@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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • In accordance with State of Illinois COVID-19 guidelines, face masks are optional in all Arboretum buildings.

  • Manual wheelchairs are available for loan. Strollers are currently unavailable. Personal strollers are welcome.

  • Indoor restrooms are open in the Visitor Center until it closes at 6:00 p.m. and in the West Pavilion until sunset, with heightened sanitation standards in place. 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 Visitor Center is open from 9:00 a.m.– 6:00 p.m. daily. The Arboretum Store is open 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. 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 dailys, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Ginkgo Café is open daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 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 daily, 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. The Sterling Morton Library is open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Membership

  • Yes. Timed-entry reservations have greatly reduced wait times at the gatehouse and provide a streamlined and predictable entry experience. Timed-entry has also eliminated traffic backups onto the Route 53 roadway. Due to the significant benefits, the Arboretum is continuing with this process. If you have any challenges reserving passes, we are happy to assist you (membership hotline: 630-719-2453).

  • 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.

  • Members of reciprocal gardens with one name on their membership card are eligible for up to two free general admission tickets each time they visit (member+ one guest). Those with two or more names on their reciprocal garden membership card receive entries for all those named on the card (no guests). 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 here.

    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). Please note that The Morton Arboretum follows the 90-mile exclusion rule, with the exception of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Digital Membership Card

  • A digital membership card is an electronic version of your Morton Arboretum membership card that can be easily downloaded and stored in your Apple or Android smartphone’s wallet. It provides access to all of the same member benefits in a digital format, including free entry passes, Acorn Express Tram vouchers, and member gift vouchers. In-person discounts in The Arboretum Store and the Gingko Restaurant and Café will be available by presenting your digital membership card.

    Digital membership cards will also include a link to reserve timed-entry tickets and to visit the Arboretum’s website. Please note, timed-entry tickets will not be delivered to your digital membership card. The online timed-entry reservation process does not change with the launch of digital cards. Timed-entry reservation confirmations will continue to be sent by email.

  • Starting June 1, simple instructions for downloading a digital membership card will be emailed within three to five days when a current member renews or when a new member joins. More information will be shared with current members when they receive their renewal notice before their membership is set to expire.

  • The Morton Arboretum is committed to its mission of conservation and sustainability. Digital membership cards are an eco-friendly option. They help conserve trees by reducing the Arboretum’s use of paper and reduce the carbon footprint by eliminating printing and mailed delivery.

    Not only are digital membership cards a greener option, they also deliver your member benefits sooner. Links to download your digital cards and vouchers are delivered to your email inbox within three to five days time instead of waiting two to three weeks for printing and mailing.

    Digital cards also help keep your member benefits at your fingertips; no more hunting for lost cards, passes or vouchers!

  • Digital membership card download links and instructions will be emailed to the primary member’s email address within three to five days of the membership renewal or purchase. The primary member can forward the email to the second named member, who may use the same links to add the digital card and any vouchers to their smartphone wallet.

  • Yes, traditional, physical cards will still be available upon request. Members can select the physical card option by completing a physical card request form linked within the email containing the digital membership card download instructions, calling the Membership Hotline at 630-719-2453, or emailing membersmail@mortonarb.org. Traditional, physical cards will arrive by mail two to three weeks after purchase. Beginning in June 2023, additional shipping and handling fees may apply.

  • Please contact the Membership Hotline at 630-719-2453 or email membersmail@mortonarb.org.

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.

  • Teachers and teachers-in-training from preschool through college can visit The Morton Arboretum with free admission on Teacher Tuesdays (any Tuesday between June 7 and September 27, 2022). Information about requesting tickets and answers to Frequently Asked Questions are available here. To ensure you are on the Arboretum’s educator email list, please send your contact information to registrar-ed@mortonarb.org.

  • 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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