Busse Woods: A Natural Oasis in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs

Between an enormous airport and shopping center – O’Hare International and Woodfield Mall, respectively – sits an equally enormous oasis of green and blue in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

Ned Brown Preserve, known as Busse Woods or Busse Lake to locals, is a several-thousand acre forest preserve with woods, meadows, lakes, streams, even a herd of elk. Several types of water craft are available for rental as are picnic shelters for large groups.

Although hundreds of people visit the preserve on even a slow day and the place is surrounded by the airport, mall, and several major expressways, it is so large that it does offer the feeling of getting away from it all.

I visited the lake with my kayak one evening this week and was surprised again at how much wildlife can be seen. The preserve is worth a visit – but expect a crowd if you go at peak times on weekend afternoons.


Ned Brown Preserve includes several thousand acres of land, a 486-acre lake, and an abundance of wetlands.


An egret wades the weedy shallows in search of fish.


A lightning-fast thrust of the bill and a fish is caught.


One of the largest frogs I’ve ever seen in the wild watched me warily.


A Great Blue Heron pauses from fishing while I pass…


… then decides to get away from me and my kayak.


Boats, canoes, and kayaks are available for rent – if you can get past the egret.


In the evening the egrets head to the trees for a night’s roost.


A beaver resented the proximity of my kayak…


… gave the water a whack with the tail…


… and dove to safety.


6 thoughts on “Busse Woods: A Natural Oasis in Chicago’s Northwest Suburbs

  1. I’ve never been there in person, but thanks to your lovely paddle on this evening, it’s almost as good as being there in person! Very well-done, everything: the compositions of each photograph, the captions for each, and the descriptive narrative. Bravo! And may you continue to enjoy the beauty of the season and your surroundings.

    • Thank you for the kind comments! I’m glad the photos and text gave you some sense of being there. I wish you the best as well, as you and your family continue to explore the natural beauty of the Upper Midwest and wherever your travels take you.

  2. Amazing photography, Eric! You do a wonderful job in capturing motion in your pictures — from an egret’s catch (my personal favorite) to a beaver flapping its tail.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed my photos, Sana. It’s an awesome and humbling experience to be so close to wild creatures, like that egret fishing, when they choose to ignore us and carry on with their natural activities. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

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