Teeming with fascinating sights and exciting adventures, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
In this guide, we’ll tell you the best things to do, the best time to visit, where to stay in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and much more. Makes sure to read till the end!
|Park||Harpers Ferry National Historical Park|
|Things to do||Church Visit, Scenic Trail and many more|
|Hotels near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park||Quality Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites|
|Camping Locations||Not Allowed|
Where Is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park?
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is situated at the joining of the Shenandoah Rivers and the Potomac in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.
To reach the park, you can either take a car and drive through the US Route 340, or you can take a train from Union Station in Washington to Martinsburg.
About Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
From the remnants of the Civil war to thrilling river rides and scenic trails, this Park is a goldmine for history and adventure lovers.
This Historical Park is considered one of the most beautiful parks in the United States.
Encompassing the entire confluence of Shenandoah and Potomac rivers in the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland, Harper Ferry combines nature, adventure, and history all in one place.
Covering approximately 3,660-acres, the park is packed with hiking trails, scenic overlooks, Civil War battlefields, and the quaint historic district of Harpers Ferry.
The restored shops, taverns, boarding houses, a marshal’s office exhibits, and historic trade workshops beautifully tell the Civil War history of the region.
Receiving half a million people visit the park each year, this Park is a treat for history buffs and those who want to experience something new and unique.
History Of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
The history of this Park is rich and exciting, just like the park itself, involving a considerable number of prominent people and key events that changed the course of history.
From Robert Harper in the 1740s to the last President of Storer college in the 1950s, numerous people traveled through Harpers Ferry on journeys towards freedom, exploration, and defense of a young nation and left their mark on the place.
Thomas Jefferson noted the mesmerizing beauty of the Harpers Ferry during his visit in 1783.
George Washington realized the commercial importance of the area and established a National Armory in Harpers Ferry in 1794.
From 1861-1865, Harpers Ferry witnessed its first successful application of exchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first American railroad, John Brown’s slave rebellion, and the biggest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War.
In 1944, the federal government began to prioritize the places of national interest and authorized Harpers Ferry as a national monument which later became a national park in 1963.
Today, the park holds several museums and historical sites from the 19th century that attracts more than half a million visitors annually from all over the world.
Things To Do In the Park
This Park offers a wide variety of things to see and do. Here are a few top things to do in the park for first-timers:
Jefferson Rock is one of the most famous landmarks in Harpers Ferry that offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding mountains, the confluence of the Potomac, and the water gap.
Located just a short hike along the Appalachian trail, it’s a rock formation with a unique shape.
The name comes from Thomas Jefferson, who stood here centuries ago and applauded the beauty of viewpoint.
However, Jefferson Rock can be difficult to access for people with physical limitations due to its location.
John Brown’s Fort
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, John Brown’s Fort is an excellent place to learn about the infamous John Brown Raid of 1859.
Brown was the most prominent opponent of slavery and started an armed insurrection of abolitionists ad enslaved people.
In the raid, the protestors took control of the fort and took more than 60 hostages.
However, Brown’s plan failed when the Marines showed and got the fort back. Captured in his house, Brown was sentenced to death.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachia National Scenic trail is one of the most scenic trails in the parks whose beauty can not be described in words.
With over 2,180 miles, the trail covers a vast territory across several states from Maine to Georgia and allows visitors to experience the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.
It is one of the finest hiking trails globally that allows only hiking and nothing other than that.
The point is an excellent vantage point to see in Harpers Ferry that rewards visitors from the stunning views framed by the photogenic Blue Ridge Mountains.
The point sits on the shores where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet and offers views of three states, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland.
It’s a great spot to enjoy some fresh air and snap Instagram-worthy photos.
St. John Episcopal Church
The ruins of St. John’s Episcopal Church are another brilliant Civil-era landmark that still stands for us to admire its bravery and strength.
The abandoned Church served as a hospital to treat injured, dying, and disease during the Civil War and still tells the horrifying tales of the war.
With its destroyed walls and beautiful scenery, the Church is a great place to click a bevy of Instagram-worthy photos.
Best Time To Visit
Though this Park is an all-year-round destination with a pleasant and moderate climate, Fall is the best time to visit the park when the weather is lovely.
The park is completely covered with beautiful foliage. Spring is the close second for everyone who wants to enjoy the stunning wildflowers and dogwood trees among the budding trees.
Fall is the busiest season, so be prepared for the heavy crowds, especially on weekends.
Map Of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
You can grab the map of Harpers Ferry at the park’s visitor center.
Still, we’d recommend downloading the map in advance and familiarizing yourself with a historic downtown, surrounding hiking trails, and parklands to save time and navigate smoothly.
Click here to download the map or browse the bestselling Harpers Ferry maps on Amazon.
Camping At Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Camping is prohibited in this Park. Still, there are many camping spots at the two nearby parks, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park and Shenandoah National Park.
The four most popular campgrounds closest to the historical sites are Harpers Ferry KOA, Harpers Ferry Campground, Harpers Ferry Campground-River Riders, and Maple Tree Campground. For more information, click here.
Weather Of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
This Park enjoys a pleasant temperate climate throughout the year.
The highest average temperature of 63 o F with July being the only time of the year when the temperature rises to 100 o F. January is the coldest month with 40 o F.
Extreme weather events can sometimes lead to the flooding in Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, so make sure to check the current weather forecast before visiting.
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Hotels Near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
There are no lodging, camping, or eating establishments inside the Park.
Still, you can find some excellent accommodation options in the two adjacent towns of the park.
Here are some popular hotels near the park recommended by TripAdvisor:
- Clarion Inn Harpers Ferry
- Quality Inn
- Hampton Inn & Suites
- The Inn Charles Town
- Bavarian Inn
Entry Fee & Passes
Visitors must have an entrance pass to get inside the Park. The pass costs $20 per vehicle, $15 per motorcycle, and $10 per person on foot, valid for three consecutive days.
Or else, visitors can also purchase an Annual Pass for $35, valid for one year from the month of purchase.
Entry passes can be purchased online or at the entrance booth on Shoreline Drive.
Checklist Of Things To Pack
Wondering what to pack for your first trip to the Park? Here are the top 10 items you must have in your bag:
- A Daypack
- Extra clothing layers
- Waterproof Jacket
- Sturdy Hiking & water boots
- Hat & Sunscreen
- Water & Snacks
- Bug Spray
- First-aid kit
- Map & GPS
Can I explore the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in one day?
No, it’s impossible to see everything the park has to offer in one day. You’d need at least 2-3 days to catch some incredible history and hiking experience.
Which is the oldest building in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park?
The Harper House is the oldest building in the town, built by Robert Harper between 1775 to 1782.
Is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park worth visiting?
Harpers Ferry is one of the most charming national parks that offer an excellent variety of things to see and do.
It has something for everyone from historic buildings to charming downtown, scenic trails, and river adventures.
Shefali Jain is a Content Editor & Writer at National Planning Cycles.
After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes.