August 2009: Theodore Roosevelt Island

McLean, Virginia

Of the four icons on Mount Rushmore, Theodore Roosevelt is the only one not to have a memorial around the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Instead he has his own island nearby in the Potomac River. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt set aside over 234 million acres of public lands as national parks, forests, monuments and wildlife refuges. After his death in 1919, Roosevelt admirers sought a suitable memorial - and what better way to honor his legacy of conservation than by dedicating this wooded, 88-acre island in the Potomac River in his memory?

Access is only from the Virginia side of the Potomac, from a parking lot off the George Washington Parkway. After leading your dog across a footbridge, three curvilinear trails conspire to cover the marsh, swamp and forest of the island. The Upland Trail and Wood Trail are covered with imbedded yellow stones; the Swamp Trail utilizes a boardwalk. All are extremely wide and ideal when more than one dog is in tow. There is enough elevation change to keep your dog’s interest and the thick woods produce a shady haven just yards from the crush of Washington bustle.

Nestled in the center of the island, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial is dominated by a 17-foot bronze statue by Paul Manship. It overlooks a diorama of fountains and four 21-foot granite tablets, inscribed with the tenets of Roosevelt’s thoughts on Nature, Youth, Manhood and the State.

Theodore Roosevelt Island is accessible only from the northbound lanes of the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The entrance to the parking lot is located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge. Southbound traffic: take Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to Constitution Ave. Take a right on 23rd St. and cross Memorial Bridge. Once on the bridge, bear right to return to the G.W. Parkway.