Harpers Ferry is a historic town of 285 people (2020) 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.



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). Nearly half a million people visit the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park each year.

View of Harpers Ferry from the Maryland side of the Potomac

In 1859 Harper's Ferry was the location of the largest episode of guerrilla warfare in American history up to that point. A group of abolitionists led by John Brown attacked an armory in the town, hoping to get weapons for a slave revolt. There was a battle with Brown and his followers on the one side, and federal troops commanded by Robert E. Lee on the other side. While the attack failed and Brown was hanged shortly thereafter, it is said to have contributed greatly to the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.

Visitors to Harpers Ferry should be aware that the topic of John Brown is a sensitive one. He was not seen as a hero to the pro-slavery white population.

A comic historical novel about Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry is Flashman and the Angel of the Lord.

Visitor information


Get in


By car


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

See also: Rail travel in the United States



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. 9AM-5PM. 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 2½- hour experience and is geared toward those approximately 10 years of age and older and between 70 - 250 lbs. Fly through the air, as you immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of our historic waterfront location.
    $75 per person.
  • 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. 9AM-5PM. Rafting, tubing, zip line canopy tours, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and fishing adventures on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers (class I-III). $30-75 per person.
  • 3 Harpers Ferry Marina -boat ramp /river access, 1816 Potomac St (pass available at River Riders), +1 304-535-2663. 9AM-5PM. 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.
  • 4 River & Trail Outfitters, 604 Valley Road, Knoxville, +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.
  • 5 Tubing Down the Shenandoah River, 90 Millville Road, +1 301 834 9950. hours and dates vary; see schedule online. Sit in a one-person inner tube and spend an hour or two slowly drifting down the picturesque Shenandoah River. There are several outfitters to choose from, such as River & Trail Outfitters, which provides the tube, a life jacket, and a bus to the site. $21-45 per person.
  • 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. 9AM-5PM. 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 per person.
  • 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 The Anvil Restaurant, 1290 W Washington St, +1 304-535-2582. W-Su 11AM-9PM. Washington Street. Rustic casual dining and cocktails.
  • 3 The Country Cafe, 1715 W. Washington St., +1 304-535-2327. Tu-Su 7AM-3PM, closed M. 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.
  • 4 Between The Rivers B&B, 597 E Ridge St, +1 304-535-2768. Private guest cottage in historic Harpers Ferry $125-150.
  • 5 Cross Trails Hostel, 19123 Sandy Hook Road, Knoxville, Maryland. Just up the hill from the C&O Canal Towpath and the Appalachian Trail, the Cross Trails Hostel is in Knoxville, MD, two miles from the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Free pancake breakfast and internet access. Camping available outside for $15 per person. $30.



Go next

Routes through Harpers Ferry
PittsburghMartinsburg  W   E  RockvilleWashington, D.C.
ENDMartinsburg  NW   SE  BrunswickWashington, D.C.

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