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The Strenuous Life Retreat

with Ed Roberson

Reserve Your Spot

Zapata Ranch

August 20 – 25, 2023

Join conservationist and podcaster Ed Roberson, for five days of adventure and education inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s well-known commitment to living “the Strenuous Life.”

“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”– Theodore Roosevelt 

The Program

The retreat will focus on activities and topics that were of great importance to President Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago and are now the foundation of Ed’s personal and professional lives today– vigorous outdoor adventure, large-landscape conservation, charismatic megafauna, land stewardship through ranching, voracious reading, and the history of the American West.

Each day will begin with optional early morning exercise, in which guests can kick-start their day with intention and energy, while enjoying sunrises over the stunning Sangre de Cristo mountains. After fueling up with breakfast, the group will head out for a day of physically and mentally engaging activities. While the specific itinerary is always weather-and-scheduling dependent, past Retreat activities have included:

-Challenging hikes high into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains– to the top of a historic mountain pass, a spectacular alpine lake situated above timberline at 12,000 feet, and the base of a stunning waterfall.

-Horseback riding through the other-worldly terrain of Great Sand Dunes National Park, as well as riding across the Medano’s 50,000-acre pasture, alongside the bison, elk, coyotes, raptors, and waterfowl that call the ranch home.

-Facilitated discussions on topics including regenerative agriculture, large-landscape conservation, and water in the West, with expert guest speakers from Ranchlands and the Nature Conservancy.

-Informal conversations centered around several impactful and fun-to-read books that will be recommended as pre-reading.

Evenings will be devoted to hearty meals, substantive conversations around the campfire, and well-deserved downtime to allow guests to re-energize for the next day’s adventure. In 2022, Ed recorded live podcasts with several of the guest speakers, and he plans to continue this tradition in 2023.

A devotion to the Strenuous Life does not require elite physical fitness or PhD-level knowledge of conservation, land stewardship, or history. The Strenuous Life is a state of mind–a desire to live life fully and to approach each day with all-out energy, curiosity, and optimism. While physical conditioning is important and will make the week more fun, the Retreat is open to anyone who wants to make the most of five days in one of the West’s most striking western landscapes.

Make a Reservation


$3195 includes all activities, instruction, and meals. Tax and gratuity not included.

Check availability

ed roberson on TR

Teddy Roosevelt's Strenuous Life Doctrine

By Ed Roberson

Theodore Roosevelt had every reason to take it easy. To coast. But rather than drifting through a life of “ignoble ease,” TR did just the opposite. He worked maniacally hard,...

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Zapata Ranch

Set back in a shady cotton woodgrove beneath the majestic 14,000-foot peaks of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains lies the historic Zapata Ranch headquarters and lodge, which was established in the late 1800’s. Elk, mule deer, migratory birds, eagles, and black bear also call this area home. The rooms are beautifully furnished and have an elegant southwestern decor that gives them the feel of home. All rooms have individual tiled bathrooms and views that are private, peaceful, and beautiful in any season.

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