Notre Dame has recently reopened its very own St. Joseph’s Beach, which is located on the east side of St. Joseph’s Lake on the north end of campus. Access to this beach via the lake’s circumnavigating footpath has been a “pleasant surprise,” according to junior Kaitlin Mohlenkamp, a frequent lake visitor. Many undergraduates, however, seem unaware of the beach’s presence and of the history of its use.
The earliest evidence of the beach being open comes from an Observer article dated 1973 that said students got beach access for free. Another article from 1987 advertises “FUN IN THE SUN” on the beach with a DJ and free ice cream. Windsurfing and scuba diving with permission was also an option at the time, according to The Observer Archives. In 2002, the senior class held a “Margaritaville” bash with food and alcohol.
The last time the beach was open for swimming was in 2019, before most of the current undergraduates were on Notre Dame’s campus. During the 2020-2021 school year, the beach was closed for renovations, and even after that, the beach was used for the sailing club only. According to Drew Losso, Assistant Director for Facilities Management and Operations at RecSports, the beach has opened because RecSports now has adequate staffing numbers to provide lifeguards to the beachfront. Before, lifeguards were needed at other facilities.
The beach is open until the end of September or until weather permits, from 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-7 p.m. on weekends (except football Saturdays).
Veronica Ballinger, Assistant Director of Communications and Engagement at RecSports, says the beach is unlike any other Notre Dame recreational facility because it “gives folks the opportunity to recreate outside in a more organic way. We tend to think that recreation is fitness, playing sports, or working out, but recreation is truly finding enjoyment and finding time for yourself.”