Whether you rent one of our boats or bring your own, you can enjoy several of DuPage County’s forest preserves from the water, including on the DuPage River, which is comprised of two branches, West and East Branches, which converge and eventually join the Des Plaines River. In its entirety, the DuPage River includes eighty-four miles of waterways. Several of the forest preserves offer easy access to the West Branch of the DuPage River, and some offer private boating on lake within the preserves. Due to invasive zebra muscles, there are some restriction on private boating you can find below. A few preserves also offer boat rental for craft such as kayaks, canoes, rowboats and even motorize boats.

Boat Rental

Rent canoes, kayaks and rowboats with cash or credit card at Blackwell and Herrick Lake. Rentals end an hour before closing. Boat rentals start April 1 at Blackwell and May 6  at Herrick Lake only one Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m. until May 28, when rentals start daily 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. After Labor Day through October 1st, rentals continue Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m.


Rowboat, canoe or kayak: $10 per hour or $50 per day
Boat with trolling motor (Blackwell only): $15 per hour or $75 per day

Private Boating

Private boating is allowed on the West Branch of the DuPage River and the District offers easy access with boat launches at Blackwell, Warrenville Grove and McDowell Grove and to Salt Creek at Salt Creek Park, Cricket Creek, Salt Creek Greenway at Hunter Road (take-out only), and Fullersburg Woods near the Graue Mill parking lot. A few of the forest preserves also offer private boating on lakes.

If you’re boating on either branch of the DuPage River or Salt Creek, you can enter at any practical forest preserve location except Oak Meadows. You need a water usage stamp or state registration but don’t need a Forest Preserve District permit.

You can use your own watercraft on four forest preserve lakes:

  • Blackwell Silver Lake (boat ramp)
  • Hidden Lake Round Meadow Lake (carry-in only)
  • Mallard Lake Mallard Lake (carry-in only)
  • West Branch Deep Quarry Lake (carry-in only)
  • But you need to have the following:
  • A daily or annual private-boating permit
  • The right kind of boat: nongasoline-powered boats, canoes, kayaks, or multichambered inflatables with factory-installed hardened floors and transoms less than 20 feet long (sailboats on Silver Lake, too)
  • The proper personal flotation devices
  • An Illinois water usage stamp or state registration (You can buy Illinois water usage stamps at sporting goods stores or at Visitor Services at 3S580 Naperville Road in Wheaton Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4 p.m. For details on all state boating requirements, visit
Permits and Fees

You can purchase daily private-boating permits with cash at lockboxes at each launch site and with cash or credit card at the Blackwell boat-rental building, when open (see dates under Renting above).

Annual permits are also available at the Blackwell boat-rental building and online. For other options, download the 2017 Private Boating Permit application with instructions, or call Visitor Services at (630) 933-7248 Monday – Friday 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

DuPage resident: $35 per year or $7 per day
Nonresident: $45 per year or $9 per day

Private Boating Rules and Regulations

For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, you must follow these rules and regulations.

  • You must have a valid annual or daily private boating permit affixed to the bow of your craft above the water line.
  • If you have a canoe, kayak, paddleboat or rowboat, you must also have either an Illinois Department of Natural Resources water usage stamp or IDNR registration affixed to the bow. If your watercraft has a motor, you must have an IDNR registration.
  • You can only boat on four forest preserve lakes: Silver Lake at Blackwell, Round Meadow Lake at Hidden Lake, Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake and Deep Quarry at West Branch. You must be off the water by sunset and can only boat on Silver Lake March 1 – Nov. 30.
  • Your watercraft must be under 20 feet long. Boats, canoes, kayaks, multichambered inflatables with factory-installed hardened floors and transoms, and paddleboats with foot wells are allowed on all three lakes. Sailboats are only allowed on Silver Lake. Sailboards or surfboards (floating devices without foot wells or railings), rafts, pontoons, or pontoon-like paddleboats are not allowed on any lake.
  • Your watercraft must be nongasoline-powered. You can use a boat with an attached gas motor, however, if you tilt it in the upright position and remove all fuel tanks and fuel lines.
  • You cannot race, tilt canoes, have boating contests, conduct training procedures, or enter the water from your watercraft.
  • Per federal and state regulations, your watercraft must have one well-fitting, wearable, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for each person on board, and boaters under 13 must wear their PFDs at all times. Watercraft longer than 16 feet (except canoes and kayaks) must also have at least one Type IV throwable PFD. Per District regulations, boaters of all ages must wear PFDs in private canoes and kayaks.
  • You cannot carry passengers and cargo with a total combined weight that’s greater than your watercraft’s posted safe carrying capacity. You must have the manufacturer’s capacity plate permanently affixed to the watercraft.
  • Use the boat ramp at Silver Lake. At Round Meadow, Mallard Lake and Deep Quarry Lake, you must transport watercraft on or in a vehicle (no trailers) and carry it to the water, where you can launch from any location unless otherwise posted.
  • Illinois law requires that you remove all aquatic plants and animals from all watercraft and equipment before moving watercraft or equipment away from any body of water.
  • You must follow all Forest Preserve District of DuPage County ordinances, state statutes and administrative orders. The Forest Preserve District may modify these private boating rules and regulations at any time.
Prevent Zebra Mussels from spreading

The District has found zebra mussels in four lakes at three preserves: Deep Quarry and Bass lakes at West Branch, Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake, and Eagle Lake at Hidden Lake. You can help stop the spread of this nonnative, invasive species no matter where you boat or fish.

  • Remove all plants, animals and mud from boats, equipment and trailers.
    Drain all water from your boat and gear.
  • Dry everything thoroughly with a towel.
  • Empty all bait buckets in garbage cans or dumpsters before leaving the lake. (You can’t see juvenile zebra mussels with the naked eye.)

Click here to learn more.