Roosevelt Island and the District’s only swamp

Morning reader(s). So we district residents are always inundated with the phrase “Yeah, well DC was built on a swamp.” It’s the catch-all explanation for the humidity, the mosquitoes, the sunken Nationals stadium, the big insects, the lack of snow, and the city’s general discomfort. Whether the causality is TRUE is irrelevant. We are loyal to our swamp-roots. That being said, have you actually SEEN a swamp in DC? Like a real one?

I didn’t think so. Because despite being built on a swamp, DC has virtually no swamps. In fact, I can only think of one: Roosevelt Island. It looks like this:

swamp pics via afagen and worldisround

Now, I’ve been going to Roosevelt Island for years. I ran the trails in college, broke up with a boyfriend there (in my mind it was perfect because it had multiple “escape routes,” however I failed to factor in that these “routes” were actually just trails that led to a ONE exit bridge because it’s a goddamn ISLAND so we ended up awkwardly walking out together. FAIL), and read under the monument in the summer. However, until last year I had never seen this swamp.

One of the best monuments in DC

And it is a quite a swamp. A series of planked trails lead you through the marsh, accompanied by numerous lizards that sun themselves on the wood, until you are finally lead to an outlook that showcases the swamp. It is expansive, serene and beautiful. You feel like you are far from DC. A feeling that was further enhanced for SPY, when we saw an effing STAG. Yes, like from Bambi.

artist's rendition of the stag

A stag with a full rack of antlers, strode out from the swamp, calmly looked around, munched on some reeds then retreated into the inner sanctum of the island, out of sight. AMAZING. So If you haven’t visited Roosevelt Island, you should. According to the Audubon Society, the island has three distinct habitats: hardwood forest, tidal marsh and wooded swamp. It also has arguably one of the BEST monuments in all of DC. And if that’s not enough, you can see up to 6 different species of woodpeckers in the winter!

angry that you aren't visiting

I know I’m sold! So visit. See the lone swamp our city was built on. Directions here.

3 thoughts on “Roosevelt Island and the District’s only swamp

  1. This was a great post and now I’m all excited about visiting the swamp. Someone with my allergies and extreme aversion to the climate suddenly wants to visit it. Wondering how many hours early I can leave work to go enjoy my roots….

    Good one Spy

  2. Later in life Bambi’s dad retired to the city. downsized etc. An entire forest is just TOO much maintenance.

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