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Frequently Asked Questions

General Information


Arrival and Facilities

Events and Volunteering

1 / When is Nell's Woodland open?

Nell's Woodland is a private woodland that is sometimes open to the public.  The woodland is open to the public on Sundays and Mondays from 7 AM to 7 PM; visit our Visitor Registration page for further information.

2 / What do I do if I or someone else gets hurt or needs help?

If you need assistance, either notify the nearest Nell's Woodland volunteer, call our main office at (815) 331-1078, or in the event of an emergency call the Ottawa Police Department at (815) 433-2131

3 / Is there a fee to access Nell's Woodland or do I need a parking pass?

A select number of free visitor access passes are available to be reserved for our Public Access Hours.  This digital access pass acts as your party's ticket into the woodland and as your parking pass.  Parties are limited to one vehicle and 6 members maximum.  5 first-come, first-serve parking and access passes will be available at the gate during each access period, check our Facebook page for the most update information regarding "walk-up" passes.

4 / How do I reserve an access pass?

You can reserve either a morning or afternoon access pass via Eventbrite on our Visitor Registration page.

5 / Can I picnic at Nell's Woodland?

Yes, but please be sure to follow our rule of "Leave No Trace."  Trash and recycling bins are located next to the parking lot.

6 / Is there food served at Nell's Woodland?

Nell's Woodland does not serve food but we invite you to bring your own food and snacks to enjoy at the preserve.  The possession and consumption of alcohol is not permitted at Nell's Woodland.

7 / Where do I enter Nell's Woodland?

Our entrance is at the end of Alexis Avenue, directly off of Illinois Route 23.

8 / Who do I check in with upon my arrival?

If you are visiting us on a Public Access day, a Nell's Woodland volunteer will greet you at our gate, check your digital access pass, and direct you to parking and our trails.  If you are visiting us for a scheduled event or class, you can park in our lot and walk to our main entrance.  The main entrance, a set of automatic sliding doors, is located at our Ecology Center.  Posted signs will also guide you to our entrance.

9 / What facilities are there at Nell's Woodland? 

The Ecology Center is a place to welcome, gather and house programs for our visitors; it features general gathering space, including kitchenettes, meeting, and special functions rooms. Our Wellness Center is a curated space, designed to enhance the experience of yoga, mental health, and self-awareness, complete with studio spaces and two locker rooms.

On Public Access Days, our Centers of Stewardship will be closed, but outdoor restrooms will be located next to the parking lot.

10 / Where can I find a list of events and courses hosted at Nell's Woodland?

A detailed list of events and courses hosted at Nell's Woodland can be found on our events page.  Some events may require prior registration via Eventbrite.

11 / Where do the trails start?

The Eagle, Hummingbird, and Robin trails depart directly across from our main entrance.  The Cardinal trail departs from our main parking lot.  A map of our trails can be found on the Trails & Centers of Stewardship page.

12 / Can I host my own event at Nell's Woodland?

Contact us at or via our contact page about hosting your event at Nell's Woodland.  We are actively searching for opportunities to support community members who would like to host events related to our Spheres of Stewardship and beyond!

13 / How can I become a park volunteer?

Nell's Woodland has opportunities for those interested in volunteering for both a day at a time or long term.  Please visit our Volunteering Opportunities page for further information on the positions that are available and for our Volunteer Application form.

Arrival and Facilities

Further questions?  Contact us at

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