Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is a 77-acre Illinois Nature Preserve in Highland Park, IL that is home to wooded ravines and some of our region’s most magnificent views of Lake Michigan. The Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is home to three unique ecosystems — ravines, bluffs, and lakefront. These rare and fragile ecosystems exist together in only a few places in the region and require our utmost care and respect. 

PUBLIC NOTICE: Openlands has temporarily closed the Lakeshore Preserve for the protection of all.

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve Remains Closed as Investigation Continues

Updated May 28, 2021 – On multiple occasions during the weeks of May 17 and 24, explosives-sniffing dogs identified a new area of concern at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve near Highland Park, shelving earlier hopes to re-open the popular nature preserve by Memorial Day weekend.

Openlands has reiterated its request for the military to investigate, identify, and remove all remaining unexploded ordnance from the site.  Once part of the Fort Sheridan military base, the Preserve was closed to the public on April 9 after a grenade and two other explosives were found and safely disabled by the Waukegan Bomb Squad.

The Army Base Realignment and Closure Office pledged in April to provide Openlands with a preliminary assessment by mid-May. To date, Openlands has not received that document.  Openlands has received a May 13 statement by the military concluding that multiple discoveries of explosives were anomalies requiring no further investigation.

Openlands has done everything the military has requested. The nationally accredited nonprofit, based in Chicago, has worked with the City of Highland Park to formally request information and support from the Department of Defense. In addition, Openlands utilized a contractor to employ explosives-sniffing dogs and is implementing the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Education Program so that people on site will know how to “Recognize, Retreat, and Report” unexploded munitions.

Openlands shares the desire to re-open the Preserve and will do so as soon as possible.  To receive updates and announcements of reopening as they become available, email  In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and understanding. 

As a mater of security for the public, fencing has been placed in areas of the Lakeshore Preserve as a precaution where there otherwise would be public access to the site. Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is patrolled by Advance Security, to uphold the rules and regulations for the safety of all. Report violators to Highland Park Police: 847.432.7730

Audio Tour

Explore the Preserve through words of the people who know it best.