Rentals and Reservations
There are several facilities in the Open Space preserves that can be rented or reserved. These include picnic areas, meeting rooms, campsites and canoes. Note that groups of 24 or fewer (children included) do not need a reservation to use most picnic areas. Palo Alto residency requirements apply to all reservations and rentals in Foothills Park. (Effective December 17, 2020 Foothills Park will be open to the General Public)
Payment and Cancellations
Payment for reservations is due immediately. Cancellations must be made in writing and received two weeks before the event. A cancellation fee (1/3 of total charges) is non-refundable unless the city cancels the permit, wherein a full refund will be made. No refund is given if cancellation is less than two weeks.
|Preserve||Facilities/ Amenities Available|
|Baylands Nature Preserve
Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center
Interpretive Center Meeting Room
Pearson Arastradero Preserve
Esther Clark Park
|There are no facilities available for public rental.
All picnic areas in the open space preserves are first-come, first-served for groups of 24 adults and children, residents and non-residents included. The exception is Oak Grove picnic area in Foothills Park, which is by reservation only for gatherings up to 150 adults and children.
A small picnic area is next to the ranger station. It has four picnic tables with charcoal barbecues; water is available. Use of the picnic area is first-come, first-served, but if you have a group of 25 or more you must get a group permit from the rangers in advance. Note that the permit is for the group gathering only - it is not a reservation. Call the Supervising Ranger at 650-617-3156 for the permit.
Seven picnic areas are available to Palo Alto residents (Effective December 17, 2020 Foothills Park will be open to the General Public) and their accompanied guests. Tables, charcoal barbecues, and water are available. All picnic areas (with the exception of Oak Grove) are first-come, first-served and are to be used by groups of 24 or fewer adults and children.
Any group of 25 or more adults and children in Foothills Park must reserve Oak Grove. Oak Grove is the only picnic area that can be reserved for the exclusive use of gatherings of 1-150 people.
- If Oak Grove is not available on your desired date, then you may try other locations within the city; see the Parks Department's Picnic Reservations page.
- To reserve Oak Grove, use the city's online reservation system. See also the Groups and Special Event Permits page. To check on date availability, call Foothills Park at 650-329-2423 or Lucie Stern Community Center at 650-463-4900.
- For more information, see the Oak Grove page.
- Know before you go: Oak Grove Reservation Information and Foothills Park Facility Fee Schedule.
Selected Rules for Picnic Areas
- Group size at all the non-reservable picnic areas must be 24 or fewer adults and children (residents and non-residents included). Organizers are responsible for the size of their group and may be subject to citation and expulsion from the preserve if the group size exceeds 24 people.
- If your group is 25 or more adults and children (residents and non-residents included), you must get a permit or reservation in advance; Groups and Special Event Permits
- Foothills Park:
- Residency requirements apply regardless of group size. All non-resident guests must be accompanied by a Palo Alto resident. Each resident may have up to 15 non-resident guests but the group may not exceed 24 adults and children without a permit or reservation. (Effective 12/17/20 Foothills Park will be open to the General Public)
- Organizers of small groups (24 residents and non-residents, adults and children) may fill out the Small Group Guest List form in person to a ranger at the entrance station or at the Interpretive Center offices on the day of your gathering. Small group guest lists may not be submitted in advance. The form is only available from a ranger on the day of your event so we can ensure proof of residency, group size, and other information is complete. Guest lists that are left at an unattended entrance station or ranger office will not be honored.
- If you have a group of 25 or more adults and children, you must reserve Oak Grove picnic area. Groups and Special Event Permits
- Portable barbecues, portable grills, table-top gas stoves, portable tables and inflatable jumpers are prohibited in the Open Space preserves.
- Wood burning is not permitted in the barbecues; charcoal only. Wood collecting is not permitted.
- If you have a reservation in Oak Grove, you must submit a guest list one week in advance. Foothills Park Guest List Form. Note: this guest list form is only for use by groups with reservations. Use of this form by groups without a reservation will not be honored.
- Additional information is written in the Oak Grove Reservation Information.
Meeting rooms are available for rent in the Foothills Park Interpretive Center and the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center.
Baylands: To reserve the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, contact Alex Hamilton at the Junior Museum and Zoo: 650-329-2412.
Foothills Park: The meeting room in the Interpretive Center can accommodate up to 50 people. Tables and chairs are included. A projector and screen are available for rent. Palo Alto residency rules apply. (Effective 12/17/20 Foothills Park will be open to the General Public) To reserve, use the city's online reservation system. To check on date availability, call Foothills Park at 650-329-2423 or Lucie Stern Community Center at 650-463-4900.
Note: Rental of this room does not include the lobby area of the Interpretive Center, which is a public space and therefore is not reservable.
If you have a reservation for the Interpretive Center meeting room, you must submit a guest list one week in advance. Foothills Park Guest List Form.
Know before you go: Interpretive Center Meeting Room Reservation Information and Foothills Park Facility Fee Schedule.
Towle Camp in Foothills Park is available to Palo Alto residents and their accompanied guests for tent camping from May 1 to October 31. (Effective 12/17/2020 Foothills Park will be open to the General Public)There are eight campsites. Each site offers a charcoal barbecue, water, picnic table, tent area and a food storage box. Six of the campsites can accommodate up to eight people, and the remaining two campsites are group campsites that can accommodate up to sixteen people. Campsites can be reserved up to one year in advance. Many Friday and Saturday nights are booked four to six months in advance. Sunday through Thursday nights are often available that same week. To check on date availability, call Foothills Park at 650-329-2423 or Lucie Stern Community Center at 650-463-4900.
Towle Campground page.
To reserve, use the city's online reservation system.
Know before you go: Towle Camp Reservation Information and Map and Foothills Park Facility Fee Schedule.
Selected Rules for Camping
- Responsible party must check in with the rangers at least 1.5 hours before park closing time.
- All campers must enter foothills park at least one-half hour before park closing time. last entry into all open space preserves is one half hour before closing. park hours.
- Any visitors to your campsite not spending the night must be outside the park before park closing time.
- Minimum age for the responsible adult making the reservation is 21. the responsible adult must be present on site overnight.
- if you have a camping reservation, you must submit a guest list one week in advance. Foothills Park guest list form.
- More information is available at the Towle Camp page and on the Towle Camp reservation information and map.
Canoes are available to rent in Foothills Park on weekends and holidays from May through October, whenever the entrance station is staffed. Canoe rentals are first come, first served. All transactions take place at the entrance station. Paddles and life vests are included with the hourly rental price. All canoers must wear a life vest. Children must be at least 2 years of age and weigh at least 30 pounds.
Canoes may be rented by special request for off-hours or early on weekends. Special Request Interpretive Program Form