Theodore Roosevelt Island lies in the Potomac River between the  Key Bridge and the Roosevelt Bridge. It stands as a serene haven amidst the urban landscape of Arlington, Virginia and Washington, DC. This hidden gem provides a tranquil retreat where nature takes center stage. 

A Natural Oasis

Theodore Roosevelt Island is a 91 acre island sanctuary dedicated to the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. Accessible by footbridge from Arlington, this lush retreat offers a perfect blend of nature and history. As you step onto the island, you’ll be greeted by dense woodlands, winding trails, and a vibrant array of flora and fauna. It’s an immersive experience for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Trails and Walks

The island’s well-maintained trails provide an opportunity for both leisurely strolls and more challenging hikes. The Swamp Trail winds through a wooded area and over boardwalks, offering a glimpse into the island’s unique ecosystem. The Upland Trail takes you on a journey through diverse landscapes, showcasing the island’s natural beauty. As you explore, keep an eye out for the abundance of wildlife, including birds, turtles, and butterflies that call Theodore Roosevelt Island home.

Historical Significance

In 1717, revolutionary patriot George Mason IV acquired the island as a plantation estate. During the Civil War, it was occupied by Union troops and later served as a camp for the 1st United States Colored Troops. In the years following, ownership transferred many times and it fell into disuse. The Roosevelt Memorial Association purchased the land in 1931 and later hired landscape architects to replant the island as a planned wilderness. The restored wildlife sanctuary serves as a fitting memorial to Roosevelt’s leadership in land and resource conservation. In 1967 the National Park Service added a memorial plaza with a 17 foot tall bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt, surrounded by quotes and excerpts from his speeches. 

Waterfront and Scenic Views

Being an island, waterfront views abound. Visitors can also catch glimpses of the Lincoln Memorial, Kennedy Center, and Georgetown waterfront. Scenic overlooks offer a peaceful setting for picnics or a moment of quiet contemplation. The sounds of the river and the rustling leaves create a calming atmosphere, making Theodore Roosevelt Island an ideal escape for those seeking solace in nature.

Planning Your Visit

Theodore Roosevelt Island is open year-round from dawn to dusk, and admission is free. Bring comfortable walking shoes, a camera to capture the picturesque scenery, and perhaps a picnic to enjoy by the water’s edge. Whether you’re a local seeking a tranquil retreat or a visitor exploring Arlington, this island sanctuary promises a rejuvenating experience.

Theodore Roosevelt Island in Arlington, VA, is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and history. From its lush trails and diverse wildlife to the historical significance of its memorial plaza, the island offers a unique escape within reach of the nation’s capital. Embrace the opportunity to connect with both the environment and the past as you explore the captivating beauty of Theodore Roosevelt Island.

Looking for more outdoor activities? Check out last week’s blog here!