River & Trail

Check out this list of helpful information about Harpers Ferry, WV – the outdoor adventure playground area and Historical National Park, only an hour from Washington, DC!

The Top Things to Do when Visiting Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a river town that also encompasses a National Historical Park. It is located 66 miles west of downtown Washington DC, 8 miles east of Charles Town, and 20 miles south of Frederick Maryland. Harpers Ferry sits where the Shenandoah River empties into the Potomac River. This river confluence is the intersection of three states: West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Appalachian mountains surround Harpers Ferry on all sides across from the rivers and offer stunning views of the tri-state region.
  1. Go white water rafting on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Daily trips are for ages 7+ and offer great fun with easy going white water. Raft through 3 states!
  2. Go whitewater tubing by Harpers Ferry on the Potomac River. Daily trips, huge fun for ages 12+
  3. Go mellow tubing on the scenic Shenandoah River and relax in the scenery. Ages 4+
  4. Take a hiking trip on the Maryland Heights Trail to the famous Harpers Ferry Overlook. See the incredible confluence of both rivers and the historic town, from the Maryland side. All ages.
  5. Rent a bike and ride along the C&O Canal Towpath along the Potomac River from Brunswick, MD to Harpers Ferry, WV. Six cruising miles, one way. Affordable bike rentals available from River & Trail at our Brunswick Family Campground location in Brunswick, MD.
  1. Harpers Ferry Ghost Tour – rated the #1 Ghost Tour in America according to TripAdvisor reviews. We’ve taken this tour and love it. But we think the encouragement to parents is possibly even better than the tour! ”Children who are not well behaved will be given a sugary and caffeine loaded snack at the end of the tour, along with a free puppy for their parents to care for, plus they’ll also be sent home with a very cranky ghost to keep you awake every night for at least the next week!) (Just kidding! Or are we?)”
  2. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: There are a variety of shops, eateries, and small interpretive museums dedicated to the history of the town, its industry, and the important role it played in the Civil War. Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee
    Is a popular place for delicious fresh baked goods, sandwiches, etc…
  3. Bolivar Heights. 
    Great place to get away from the weekend crowds in downtown Harpers Ferry.
    Perfect for kids to run and walk and picnic and check out the Civil War era canons. Open sunny area with some loop trails through shaded woods
  4. Hike to Jefferson Rock. St Peter’s Roman Catholic church along the way offers great views of the town and the river as well.
  5. Walking across the pedestrian bridge at Harpers Ferry offers spectacular views. Also impressive is the sound of the freight trains that emerge from a tunnel on the other side of the river and motor past Harpers Ferry on their way to Cumberland MD and beyond.
  6. Bonus #6! Weverton Cliffs is a beautiful cliff hike with much better parking access than Maryland Heights. It’s a few minutes from Harpers Ferry in Maryland. It has beautiful views and part of the Appalachian Trail.

Driving

The drive from the DC/Baltimore beltway to Harpers Ferry is only an hour.

Trains

  • The Amtrak & Marc Trains run through Harpers Ferry offering transportation to and from the DC area. The Marc Train only runs on weekdays.
  • Helpful information on the trains:
    Trains and Brunswick Family Campground
    Marc Train Schedule
  • Walking
    There is a pedestrian Bridge that crosses the Potomac and offers foot and bike access to the C&O Canal.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is managed by the US National Park Service, which includes the historic town itself and nearby landmarks like Loudoun Heights and Maryland Heights. The Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park, with the famous biking and walking C&O Canal towpath, is directly across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry.

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and park trails are open year round, with daily entrance fees and season passes available. Entrance fees are $10 per person, $15 per motorcycle, and $20 per vehicle. Tickets are valid for 3 consecutive days.
Parking is limited in the historic district of Harpers Ferry. The National Park offers parking at the Visitor’s Center located maybe a mile or two from the historic town. Shuttle buses provide shuttle service to the Lower Town district. There is limited paid parking available in town as well.

The Amtrak & Marc Train runs through Harpers Ferry offering transportation to and from the DC area. The Marc Train only runs on weekdays.

There is a pedestrian Bridge that crosses the Potomac and offers foot and bike access to the C&O Canal.

What is Harpers Ferry famous for?
Harpers Ferry is best known for abolitionist John Brown’s raid in 1859. Learn the history here. There are numerous historical sites and buildings throughout the National Historical Park, and many famous people, like Frederick Douglass, John Brown, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis, George Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Harriet Tubman are associated with the town.

Learn more about Harpers Ferry National Historical Park on the NPS website.

Is Harpers Ferry on the Appalachian Trail (AT)?

Harpers Ferry is considered the “psychological mid-point” of the 2,178 mile long famous Appalachian Trail. The AT, as it’s called, starts in Springer Mountain Georgia, and ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. It meets Harpers Ferry at mile 1013.4.   Harpers Ferry is also the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).  The ATC’s Appalachian Trail Visitor Center in is packed with helpful information about this iconic eastern USA trail.

How to get to the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Ferry

Start in town and hike to Jefferson Rock, where Thomas Jefferson is said to have exclaimed that “the view was worth a trip across the Atlantic”. Pick up the Appalachian Trail there. Get details on the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Ferry here.

  1. Antietam National Battlefield
  2. Monocacy National battlefield
  3. Shepherdstown, WV (the oldest town in WV) is 20 minutes away and filled with trendy shops, small town night life with bars and good restaurants and the unique Bavarian Inn.
  4. Charles Town, WV offers horseracing and Hollywood Casinos and Entertainment, only 10 minutes away.
  5. Kelley’s Farm Kitchen. They are actually in Bolivar (the adjacent town to the Harpers Ferry Historical National Park) and were just named the #1 restaurant vegan restaurant in the US by Yelp. Really cool place and worth the visit! 
  1. Brunswick Family Campground: Located 15 minutes from Harpers Ferry in Brunswick, Maryland. The full service campground is right on the Potomac River and offers rustic cabins, RV and tent camping, group campsites, 2 pavilions, and bike, canoe & kayak, and tube rentals. Campers get discounts on adventure trips.
  2. Get a list of Harpers Ferry area lodging resources for hotels, inns, B&Bs, and more here.
  1. Brunswick Family Campground: Located 15 minutes from Harpers Ferry in Brunswick, Maryland. The full service campground is right on the Potomac River and offers rustic cabins, RV and tent camping, group campsites, 2 pavilions, and bike, canoe & kayak, and tube rentals. Campers get discounts on adventure trips.
  2. Biking rentals on the C&O Canal
  3. Whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing
  4. Smoketown Brewery
  5. Hiking trails and hiking group tours
  6. Brunswick Railroad Museum with its famous HO-scale model trains
  7. Brunswick Swimming Pool
  8. Antique Shops
  9. Brunswick Rail yards and train station
  10. Helpful information on the trains:
    Trains and Brunswick Family Campground
    Marc Train Schedule
  11. Civil War sites including Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield, Monocacy Battlefield Park
  12. Gathland and Gambrill State Park
  13. Appalachian Trail
  14. Nearby Restaurants: Beans n the Belfry, Potomac Street Grill, King’s Pizza and more!
  15. Nearby Grocery Store: WEIS- approx 3-4 miles from campground