Open Space 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.  

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.

Picnic Areas

All picnic areas in the open space preserves are first-come, first-served for groups of 24 or fewer adults and children. The exception is Oak Grove picnic area in Foothills Nature Preserve, which is by reservation only for gatherings up to 150 adults and children. For specific picnic rules and regulation, please see notes below:


  • 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.

Foothills Nature Preserve:

  • Seven picnic areas are available. 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 Nature Preserve 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.

Selected Rules for Picnic Areas

  • Group size at all the non-reservable picnic areas must be 24 or fewer adults and children. 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, you must get a permit or reservation in advance.
  • Foothills Nature Preserve:
  • 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 Guest List(PDF, 75KB).(PDF, 21KB) 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(PDF, 154KB) sheet.

Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms are available for rent in the Foothills Interpretive Center and the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive Center.


  • To reserve the Baylands Nature Interpretive Center, contact the Junior Museum and Zoo: 650-329-2412.

Foothills Nature Preserve:

  • 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. To check on date availability, call Foothills Nature Preserve 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. Also, if you have a reservation for the Interpretive Center meeting room, you must submit a guest list one week in advance to

Camping at Foothills Nature Preserve

  • Towle Camp in Foothills Nature Preserve is available for tent camping from May 1 - October 31. 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 for Palo Alto residents and nine months in advance for non-residents. 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, view our online calendar or call Foothills Park at 650-329-2423 or Lucie Stern Community Center at 650-463-4900

Reserve a Campsite

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. 
  • 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.  
  • More information is available at the Towle Camp page.

Canoe Rentals

  • Canoes are available to rent in Foothills Nature Preserve 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.