Nature Rx

Explore Outdoors!

Research tells us that time in nature can improve our happiness, health, and relationships, enhance our attention, reduce our anxiety, and even increase our creativity and kindness. 

To help you out McWell has some park passes that can be borrowed from us. 

Fernwood Botanical Gardens

The Fernwood Botanical Gardens pass permits 7 people into these beautiful gardens in Niles, MI (about 30 minutes from campus). The pass is recipricol and allows for entrance into other parks and museums as well, such as Wellfield Botanical Gardens in Elkhart, IN (about 30 minutes from campus) and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids Michigan (less than 2 hours away from campus). For details on parks other than Fernwood, and the number of people permitted per pass, please visit the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Program and Association of Nature Center Administrators Reciprocal Network, This pass also allows for reciprocal admission and discounts at participating museums of art, history, and cultural centers in North America through the Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM).

Each of the various parks that this pass grants access to have different rules as to the number of people the pass will accommodate, if you are looking to bring a group please check with the parks website before planning your trip. 

St. Joseph County Parks

The St. Joseph County pass will get you into any of the three St. Joseph County Parks, during times the parks require an entry fee (park hours and fees). The closest St. Joe park is St. Patrick's County Park, 13 minutes from Notre Dame campus.

This pass is for any number of people in one vehicle.

Potawatomi Zoo

The Potawatomi Zoo pass will allow a student and up to seven friends or family members entrance to the zoo (8 people total). The Zoo is open March 29-November 24, 2024.

How to Borrow a park pass?

Students can borrow on their own by signing up on the current waitlist, either by coming into McWell or by emailing us at We will need to know your name, Notre Dame Email, and which of the passes you would like to borrow. McWell will then email you when one becomes available. You will have a 24 hours to come pick it up and then need to return it within 7 days after you pick it up. 

Please note, you will need to arrange your own transportation to and from the chosen park.

Limited McDonald Center Accessiblity This Summer: Due to ongoing construction inside St. Liam Hall, the elevator will be inaccessible until the beginning of the 2024-2025 academic year. We apologize for this inconvenience. If you need to pick up park passes, we can arrange an alternative location for pick up. Please contact us at

Reminder McWell hours are: Monday - Friday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM



Fernwood Botanical Garden Frog Pond With Bench Niles Michigan Us Sally Rockefeller
Explore the beautiful grounds at Fernwood Botanical Garden
St Pat's Canoeing
Hike or go canoeing in St. Pat's Park