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. If you wish to do something other than these activities, see the Groups and Special Event Permits page. Palo Alto residency requirements apply to all reservations and rentals in Foothills Park.
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.
|Baylands Nature Preserve||Picnic Area
Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center
|Foothills Park||Picnic Areas
Interpretive Center Meeting Room
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 permit from the rangers in advance. Call Supervising Ranger Richard Bicknell at 650-617-3156 for the permit.
Seven picnic areas are available to Palo Alto residents 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.
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. 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. Click this link to download the 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. At the end of Wildhorse Valley, eight peaceful campsites are nestled under the trees. 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 can accommodate up to sixteen people. Campsites can be reserved up to one year in advance. Many Friday and Saturday nights are booked two to four 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.
For more information, including photos and a campground site map, see the 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.
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.
Canoes may be rented by special request for off-hours or early on weekends. See the Special Request Interpretive Program Form for rates and information.