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Harpers Ferry lies in the northern corner of the Shenandoah Valley just inside West Virginia. It is a natural transportation hub: the Shenandoah River empties into the Potomac there. Three states meet there. East from Harpers Ferry, over the Shenandoah, is Virginia. North, across the Potomac, is Maryland.


View of Harpers Ferry from the Maryland side of the Potomac

Harpers Ferry is, for its size, as full of history as any town in the United States, with the possible exception of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A lot happened in Harper's Ferry (as it was spelled until the 20th century).

Everyone who has studied history of the United States, which many high school students in the United States are required to take, has heard the name Harpers Ferry. Something important happened there, long ago. You wouldn't be here reading this article if not for these things long ago.

Harpers Ferry was the location of the largest episode of guerrilla warfare in American history up to that point. If it was not the beginning of the American Civil War, as some have said, it was closely related to it. It was the last "pre-war" event.

Visitors to Harpers Ferry should be aware that the topic of John Brown is a sensitive one. He was not a hero there.

Nearly half a million people visit the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park each year. Harpers Ferry is mostly known for John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, with abolitionist John Brown and his followers on the one side and federal troops commanded by a certain Robert E. Lee on the other side. While the attack in 1859 failed and Brown was hanged shortly thereafter, it is said to have contributed greatly to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

Harpers Ferry is located at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, where the states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia meet. To reach it, take Interstate 70 to Frederick Maryland, and exit on US 340 west for about 15 miles.

Parking in the historical part of Harpers Ferry is very limited. There are free buses from parking lots out of the area.

By train[edit]

Harpers Ferry train is served by several weekday MARC commuter trains from Washington D.C., operated by the Maryland Transit Administration. Also, Amtrak serves the town with its Capitol Limited service between Washington D.C. and Chicago. 1 Harpers Ferry station is located at 112 Potomac St.


Harpers Ferry is located along the Appalachian Trail, as well as the C & O Canal trail. Since it is at the crossroads of these two trails, it is an extremely popular starting or ending point for backpackers.


Map of Harpers Ferry


  • 1 Harpers Ferry Zip Line / Canopy Tour, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd (US 340 to Millville Rd, left on Alstadts Hill RD, 3/10 mile on right), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. The Zip Line at River Riders will bring you breathtaking scenery as you soar among the trees and along the beautiful Potomac River.
    During River Riders' guided Zip Line/Canopy Tour you fly high above the ground along various length zips. The tour is a 2 to 2 1/2 hour experience and is geared toward those approximately 10 years of age and older and between 70 - 250lbs. Fly through the air, as you immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of our historic waterfront location.
  • River activities White water rafting, canoeing, inner tubing.
  • Backpacking The Appalachian Trail passes through Harpers Ferry. The headquarters of the Trail Conservancy are here.
  • 2 River Riders, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd (US 340 south of Harpers Ferry, Millville Rd, 3/10 mile to left on Alstadts Hill Rd, 4/10 mile on right), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. Rafting, tubing, zip line canopy tours, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and fishing adventures on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers (class I-III). 30-75 pp.
  • 3 Outdoor Adventure Camp, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd (US 340 to Millville Rd, to left on Alstadts Hill Rd, 4/10 mile on right), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. Join our family-owned and operated outdoor adventure summer day camp in beautiful, history rich Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for an amazing week that you’ll never forget! This special program attracts all types of children!
    Your week is fun and educational. Children will have the opportunity to participate in all of the activities that we offer at River Riders. In addition during their free time, we'll teach them the basics of guiding and river safety. Goals for your child include: increased confidence, learning, building character, sense of accomplishment, fun, and friendship.
    $199-$599 wk.
  • 4 Team Building by Nature, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd (US 340 to Millville Rd, left on Alstadts Hill RD, 3/10 mile on right), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. Action learning / team building programs are designed to develop leadership qualities and enhance group effectiveness.
    Build your group unity on the trails and rivers of the beautiful Harpers Ferry area near Washington, DC, Northern VA and Baltimore, MD yet outside of your normal daily environment. Watch how experiential education strengthens the bond between group members and refocuses energy on important issues.
    Through "action learning" - using actual experiences as a learning tool, River Riders helps group members gain valuable insight into their interactions with each other.
  • 5 Harpers Ferry Marina -boat ramp /river access, 1816 Potomac St (pass available at River Riders), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. A beautiful deep water section of the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County is available for your boating pleasure. A four mile section of deep water runs from our campground to above the Dargan Bend Boat Ramp in Maryland. Pontoon boats, fishing boats, water skiing, wake boarding, and jet skis are welcome. Pitch your tent and tie your boat up out front. Bring your RV as well. There are no hook-ups, but for those willing to rough-it, it is a beautiful unique location $25 per year.
  • 6 River & Trail Outfitters, 604 Valley Road Knoxville, MD 21758, +1-301-695-5177, toll-free: +1-888-446-7529, . 9AM-5PM. Outdoor Adventure Outfitter with whitewater rafting tours on both the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Other outdoor activities include kayaking, canoeing, hiking, climbing and camping. Varies on activity.


  • 1 River Riders, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd (US 340 to Millville Rd, left on Alstadts Hill RD, 3/10 mile on right), +1 304 535-2663. 9-5. White water rafting, tubing, Zip Line Canopy Tours, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and fishing adventures on the beautiful Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers (class I-III) in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia come together. Canoes, kayaks, rafting and river equipment, rescue equipment, boating and fishing equipment available for sale. 30-75 pp.
  • River & Trail Outfitters. Canoes, kayaks, and rafting equipment for rent and sale. Guided trips.
  • Outfitters General Store & Bike Shop Great hiking and outdoors equipment & gear, Harper's Ferry memorabilia and gifts, snacks, knives, excellent customer service, and great atmosphere.


  • 1 Cannonball Deli, 148 High Street, +1 304-535-1762. A hole in the wall with delicious and varied choices, including gyros, subs, hamburgers, and pasta. Popular with National Park Rangers on lunch breaks.
  • 2 Scoop's Ice Cream, 173 Potomac St, +1 304-535-6654.
  • 3 The Anvil Restaurant, 1290 W Washington St, +1 304-535-2582. Open Wed-Sun 11AM-9PM. Washington Street. Rustic casual dining and cocktails.
  • 4 The Country Cafe, 1715 W. Washington St., +1 304 535-2327. 7AM-3PM Tue-Sun/Closed Mon. Casual cafe serving breakfast and lunch since 1989.



  • 1 Harpers Ferry Vacation Rental, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, +1 304 535-2663. $150-300.
  • 2 The Jackson Rose B&B, 1167 Washington St, +1 304 535-1528. Historic home and former Civil War headquarters of Stonewall Jackson.
  • 3 The Anglers Inn, 867 Washington St, +1 304 535-1239. 1900s Victorian home. Guided fishing trips available. $85-115.
  • [dead link] Washington House Bed and Breakfast, S. George St, toll-free: +1-800-297-6957. In charming Colonial Charles Town, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet, the Washington House Inn is a wonderful example of late Victorian architecture. Built in 1899, by descendants of President Washington's brothers John Augustine and Samuel.
  • 4 Between The Rivers B&B, 597 E Ridge St, +1 304 535-2768. Private guest cottage in historic Harpers Ferry $125-150.
  • 5 [dead link] Harpers Ferry Hostel, 19123 Sandy Hook Road, Knoxville, Maryland, +1 301 834-7652. Just up the hill from the C&O Canal Towpath and the Appalachian Trail, the Harpers Ferry Hostel is located in Knoxville, MD - a short two miles from the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Free Pancake Breakfast and internet access. Camping available outside for $8 per person. $21.


  • Camping Harpers Ferry (off US340 west of Harpers Ferry National Park check in at River Riders). 30 waterfront tent or trailer sites on the Potomac River. primitive $25.
  • [dead link] Harpers Ferry KOA (off US340 west of Harpers Ferry National Park). 300 tent or trailer sites. Hook ups. $30.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Harpers Ferry
PittsburghMartinsburg  W Amtrak Capitol Limited icon.png E  RockvilleWashington, D.C.
ENDMartinsburg  NW MARC Brunswick Icon.png SE  BrunswickWashington, D.C.

This city travel guide to Harpers Ferry is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.