Starting with the very first President of the United States, George Washington, many Presidents have enjoyed the outdoors. Here are a few of them who enjoyed their outdoor pursuits with passion.
George Washington (President 1789-1797) enjoyed fishing and riding horses. It is said he enjoyed fishing so much that he kept a a small tackle box in his pocket so he’d be able to fish at a moment’s notice, even during his Presidency. The waters of the Patomac River were filled with shad, said to be one of his favorite fish, and he also ran a business that exported fish to Britain and the Carribean.
Chester Arthur, the 21st President (1881-1885), who was born in Fairfield, Vermont, was an avid fisherman. A lawyer by training, he was known to take fishing excursions. One of them, documented in the New York Times on June 26, 1885, in Canada, at the Restigouche Fishing Club (a.k.a. Restigouche Salmon Club), which is famous for its Salmon fishing and to this day remains a favorite fishing destination for the elite.
Even before his heroics in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant (18th President of the U.S., from 1869-1877) was known for his horsemanship. His father owned horses, and he learned to relate horses at a very early age. He was a daring horseman who loved to ride at top speed, and he earned money by transporting passengers using his family’s team of horses.
Herbert Hoover (31st U.S. President, from 1929-1933), who was born in West Branch, Iowa, enjoyed fishing and the outdoors so much that he built a remote camp that served as his retreat during his presidency. A precursor to Camp David, Rapidan Camp (also called Camp Hoover and “Brown House”), served as the first couple’s rustic retreat while they served in Washington, DC. While there at the 164 acre retreat, Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover enjoyed fly fishing and horseback riding. Their guests at Rapidan included Charles Lindburgh, Theodore Roosevelt, and inventor Thomas Edison.
Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States (1981-1989), along with his wife Nancy Reagan, enjoyed horseback riding and horses, especially Arabian horses. Rancho del Cielo, a 688-acre ranch northwest of Santa Barbara, California, served as the Reagans’ vacation home and a place where they enjoyed trail riding on their Arabian horses.
Perhaps the most famous outdoorsman among U.S. Presidents was Theodore (“Teddy”) Roosevelt, who enjoyed fishing and hunting. He was also a wildlife conservationist and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The 26th President (1901-1909) owned many Winchesters and was known to hunt bison, buck, rabbit, grouse, teal, and grizzly bear, among others. He hunted not only in North America but was also known to go on safari in Africa. He was so passionate about hunting that immediately after the inauguration of his successor, William Howard Taft, Roosevelt left for an expedition in Africa to hunt on safari and collect specimens for the Smithsonian.