Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a well-liked summer time street journey cease, with quick access to a number of cities and surrounding states. Hike the cliffs for an eagle’s eye view over the rivers. Stroll by centuries of historical past in downtown Harpers Ferry and the Harpers Ferry Nationwide Historic Park. See Civil Warfare period cannons, early America sweet retailers, and a provide cease for Lewis and Clark! There are simply sufficient issues to do in Harpers Ferry to make it an ideal sooner or later cease in your subsequent street journey!
The place is Harpers Ferry?
The city of Harpers Ferry is uniquely located on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, which additionally occurs to be the place three US states meet: Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Harpers Ferry is in West Virginia, but it surely’s solely an hour’s drive from Baltimore or Washington. DC.
What’s Harpers Ferry Recognized For?
Essentially the most notorious occasion that landed Harpers Ferry within the historical past books was the ill-fated John Brown Raid in 1859, an try and seize weapons and instigate a slave revolt in what was at the moment pro-slavery Virginia.
However Harpers Ferry is a city wealthy in historical past, and there’s extra to it than the raid.
Thomas Jefferson stopped right here and has a rock named after him the place he admired the views of the river valley.
Meriwether Lewis of the well-known Lewis & Clark Expedition had workplaces right here whereas getting ready for the epic trek west.
After the Civil Warfare, Storer Faculty was based in Harpers Ferry, the primary faculty accessible to coach Blacks within the new state of West Virginia.
For the outdoorsy varieties, rafting, mountain climbing, and the midway level of the Appalachian Nationwide Scenic Path are all right here, too!
A go to to Harpers Ferry, WV is a step into historical past surrounded by the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and its river valleys. There’s one thing to do in Harpers Ferry for everybody!
15 Issues to Do in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
At some point in Harpers Ferry is loads of time to get a really feel for the city. A day journey to Harpers Ferry is barely an hour away from each Washington, DC and Baltimore.
You probably have extra time, spend a weekend and get in a number of hikes with wonderful views from the river bluffs.
1. Harpers Ferry Nationwide Historic Park
This space is so steeped in historical past that a good portion of the city and surrounding space are protected by the Nationwide Park Service (NPS) as Harpers Ferry Nationwide Historic Park.
The park preserves and maintains many buildings in Harpers Ferry, predominantly the Decrease City close to the river confluence and the river bluffs used through the Civil Warfare.
A number of smaller reveals all through the Decrease City cowl Harpers Ferry’s industrial increase, its time as host to the US Military Arsenal, and the civil rights motion roots at Storer Faculty by the Niagara Motion.
One exhibit reveals the within a constructing in mid-restoration, displaying all of the layers of the constructing and discussing how historians can pinpoint timelines from development strategies, strengthen foundations with trendy means, and protect the buildings for guests.
One other exhibit covers the rise of a premade clothes retailer within the 1800’s. Earlier than that point, everybody made their very own garments at house. Do you know the best way to sew your individual garments?
There’s even a small exhibit for Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis & Clark fame, who had workplaces in Harpers Ferry whereas he gathered provides earlier than heading west to rendezvous with William Clark.
Take a while to stroll across the Decrease City and discover these one-off reveals. They add depth and shade to a city’s historical past that's in any other case dominated by the Civil Warfare.
2. John Brown’s Fort
The John Brown Fort is why most individuals come to Harpers Ferry, or have even heard of it within the first place.
The fort was initially a hearth engine retailer room on the US Military Arsenal’s grounds. In October 1859, an abolitionist named John Brown tried to grab weapons from the Federal Arsenal in Harpers Ferry and lead a slave revolt.
Nonetheless, the revolt didn’t go as deliberate. Brown’s small advance group seized the Arsenal earlier than they'd adequate reinforcements, the federal military was mobilized by President Buchanan to take again the Arsenal, and the revolt failed after a couple of days and a last showdown at this fort.
John Brown and his supporters that survived the raid have been tried and executed.
Opinions about John Brown have been blended. Some thought him a traitor; others noticed him as a martyr for his trigger.
The occasion is commonly cited as a precursor for the Civil Warfare, an inciting occasion that helped nudge the nation nearer to its inevitable battle over slavery.
At this time, the fort is preserved by the NPS as a part of Harpers Ferry Nationwide Historic Park within the Decrease City by the river confluence at The Level.
3. Civil Warfare Battlefield
The battle that adopted a couple of years after John Brown’s failed raid was really horrific. Harpers Ferry was a key logistical crossroads and noticed direct combating at least 5 occasions at Bolivar Heights, Schoolhouse Ridge, and Maryland Heights.
These areas are all protected by the NPS at this time and encompass the city of Harpers Ferry.
Accomplice Common Stonewall Jackson skilled his notorious “stone wall” troops right here. He's additionally chargeable for setting the lure right here that led to the only largest give up of Union troops through the Civil Warfare.
The world modified palms a number of occasions, and the Union realized their lesson properly.
The previous few skirmishes right here noticed the Federals principally abandon the tougher to defend Bolivar Heights in favor of the Maryland Heights, from which they might mercilessly bombard the Accomplice troops.
Schoolhouse Ridge and Bolivar Heights are west of city, and each have quick and straightforward strolling trails with reveals describing the battles.
Maryland Heights and Loudon Heights are the river bluffs in Maryland and Virginia, respectively. See the Mountaineering part beneath for extra data.
4. Storer Faculty & the Niagara Motion
After the Civil Warfare, Storer Faculty was based to coach the newly freed African People. The traditionally black school is exclusive in that it was at all times open to each women and men.
The Niagara Motion led by W.E.B. DuBois took off its first convention in America held right here at Storer Faculty. The Niagara Motion would evolve into what we all know at this time because the NAACP.
From the Decrease City, discover Excessive Road. The Storer Faculty exhibit is on the correct.
While you’re completed there, stroll a pair extra homes up the road till you see the stone stairs behind the buildings on the left.
Use warning on the well-worn stone stairs and begin climbing as much as St Peter’s Church, following indicators for Jefferson Rock.
5. St Peter’s Catholic Church
This Roman Catholic church was added to Harpers Ferry when an inflow of Irish immigrants arrived to assist construct the railroads that have been starting to brush throughout the nation.
Throughout the Civil Warfare, St Peter’s typically flew a British Union Jack flag to declare its neutrality to keep away from being bombarded through the many conflicts that impacted the city. It labored, for probably the most half.
St Peter’s has been in steady operation ever since.
The views out over the rivers are beginning to get fairly good at this level up the hillside. Get pleasure from a breather and the views earlier than persevering with up the hill to Jefferson Rock.
6. St John’s Episcopal Church ruins
There’s simply one thing about previous buildings and ruins that’s fascinating. Strolling up the steps to Jefferson Rock, the ruins of St John’s Episcopal Church are on the correct.
The church was one of many first in Harpers Ferry, used as a hospital within the Civil Warfare, broken and repaired after the battle, solely to be deserted when a brand new constructing was constructed additional up the hill.
Learn the plaque, take some photos, and proceed in your means.
7. Jefferson Rock
See the spot the place Thomas Jefferson, Virginian statesman and threerd President of america, stopped to absorb the views of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.
He recorded the views have been “price a voyage throughout the Atlantic.” Excessive reward within the 1700’s!
This spot can also be on the Appalachian Path, so if you happen to take the steps as much as the rock you can too declare you’ve hiked (part of) the Appalachian Path! 😏
While you’re prepared, take the steps again all the way down to the Decrease City and proceed exploring Harpers Ferry.
8. Heyward Shepherd Memorial
This small memorial is a crucial artifact in understanding the mindset of the US after the Civil Warfare. It's a good instance of how the reality will get twisted to suit an agenda.
Heyward Shepherd was a Black man working on the close by rail station when John Brown’s raiders confirmed up in 1859 and killed Shepherd when he refused to give up to them, the primary casualty of John Brown’s Raid.
Southerners latched onto this afterwards, citing it as proof that the abolitionists didn’t even like Blacks and the slaves have been glad as-is, loyal staff, and didn't need or want freedom.
(Isn’t that probably the most ridiculous factor you’ve ever heard?)
The South didn't simply let go of its pro-slavery views after the battle, and teams just like the Daughters of the Confederacy went on a memorial-dedicating marketing campaign after the Civil Warfare to attempt to rewrite historical past.
(Sadly, they have been very profitable.)
In Harpers Ferry, the Daughters of the Confederacy established the Heyward Shepherd Memorial, twisting the person’s loss of life to suit a picture of loyal, hard-working Blacks that have been victims of the abolitionists’ views and battle, and vilifying traitor John Brown within the course of.
Nonetheless, on the dedication of the memorial in 1931, the music director at Storer Faculty, a Ms. Pearl Tatten, spoke out in opposition to this view, as a substitute praising John Brown for beginning the motion that may see all African-People freed.
Evidently, it didn’t go over properly with the Daughters of the Confederacy.
The unique memorial from the Daughters of the Confederacy nonetheless stands with an NPS exhibit plaque subsequent to it with a modern-day clarification.
9. The Level
See for your self the place the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet and rush away to Washington, DC and the Atlantic Ocean past.
This spot has at all times been an vital crossroads for the nation. Piers from bridges lengthy gone stay within the river, and different bridges stay in use at this time by each railroads and pedestrians.
Don’t miss this fast cease for a second of peace and delightful image of the rivers.
10. Mountaineering close to Harpers Ferry
Mountaineering is among the hottest issues to do in Harpers Ferry. Miles of mountain climbing trails with some really beautiful views from varied factors crisscross by and round city.
Mentioned above, each Bolivar Heights and Schoolhouse Ridge have straightforward mountain climbing trails with historic plaques in regards to the battles held there.
The Appalachian Path passes by city, the well-known mountain climbing path that begins in Maine and continues by everything of the Appalachian Mountains to Georgia.
Harpers Ferry isn’t precisely midway however is the psychological midway level of the path, providing facilities like eating places and motels for hikers that want a break from roughing it out on the secluded path.
The Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath Path is one other Nationwide Historic Park that follows the Potomac River within the Harpers Ferry space. This paved path is nice for biking or will be accessed from Harpers Ferry through the pedestrian bridge within the Decrease City.
The Maryland Heights path is the most well-liked path for day trippers in search of fowl’s eye views of the city from the river bluff above. Oddly, it’s additionally one of many extra strenuous trails. Carry water and take your time!
The Loudon Heights path provides a distinct view perspective on the Virginia facet of the Shenandoah River bluffs. One other reasonably strenuous hike. Don’t neglect the water.
11. Harpers Ferry Prepare Station
Day trippers from Washington, DC or Baltimore that arrive by practice will arrive within the historic Harpers Ferry station. This constructing continues to be a working station and Amtrak trains cease right here each day.
Even if you happen to’re not getting on a practice, take a peek inside and browse the NPS reveals. The practice station has at all times been an integral a part of Harpers Ferry.
12. River Riders
Want a break from all of the historical past? Wish to cool off through the summer time? River Riders has acquired you coated!
This journey park has tons of various out of doors actions for Harpers Ferry, from the delicate to the adventurous, good for solo explorers and households alike!
Gently float down a river on a tube or get pleasure from whitewater rafting down some rapids. Or, get the very best of each with white water tubing!
Kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) are all additionally accessible on the Potomac River.
Want to remain dry? Discover the River Riders Aerial Journey Park, with programs for teenagers ages 4+. Or, take a couple of hours to zipline by the timber and over the Potomac River!
Take a look at River Riders to see the whole lot they provide. They typically add new actions every year!
13. Harpers Ferry Toy Prepare Museum and Pleasure Line Railroad
Little youngsters and practice lovers received’t need to miss this hidden gem in Harpers Ferry. This small museum is jam-packed with toy practice units from each period, antiques to Thomas the Prepare!
Discover the museum after which take a journey on the Pleasure Line Railroad!
Read more What To Do in Boston in March!
The Toy Prepare Museum is off of Bakerton Street, on the hill above city, near the Schoolhouse Ridge and Bolivar Heights battlefields.
14. Historical past Excursions & Ghost Excursions
In the event you don’t need to learn all these nice plaques offered by the Nationwide Park Service, contemplate a guided historical past tour as a substitute. Harpers Ferry has its share of ghostly happenings, too!
O Be Joyful Excursions offers each historical past and ghost excursions on a reservation foundation solely. Give Rick a name to schedule forward.
Excursions start at St Peter’s Catholic Church, which doesn’t have parking of its personal, so make certain you permit sufficient time earlier than your tour to park elsewhere and stroll as much as St Peter’s.
15. True Treats Historic Sweet Store
Get your sweet repair on the True Treats Sweet Store on Excessive Road! This distinctive retailer makes use of historic sweet recipes to recreate candy treats from centuries passed by.
Attempt some Turkish Delights, stained glass sweet, or pomegranate exhausting candies. Select by period, from historic to trendy, or get a sampler field and take a look at a number of!
This cute store additionally sells tea in each selection!
Situated one constructing additional up Excessive Road from the Confectionary NPS exhibit and constructing, one increase the road from the Storer Faculty exhibit.
Methods to Get to Harpers Ferry, WV
Harpers Ferry is a singular crossroads in a historically-rich countryside, and there are a number of methods to get there, however not all of them are handy.
Drive to Harpers Ferry
Most individuals drive into city. Harpers Ferry is an ideal cease on an jap US street journey.
It’s very near Antietam Nationwide Battlefield, the northern finish of Shenandoah Nationwide Park, and simply over an hour’s drive from Washington, DC or Baltimore.
>> The place To Park in Harpers Ferry
The historic downtown district, Decrease City, in Harpers Ferry has slim streets and little or no parking, and it will get very crowded through the summer time vacationer season.
Discover ample parking on the Harpers Ferry Nationwide Historic Park Customer Middle with complimentary shuttles to the downtown historic district (or you may hike a pair miles into city on a shaded path).
The doorway charge to the nationwide park is equal to paying to park downtown for a number of hours.
There are a couple of different small parking tons scattered about city, which you pay for from an app. It’s purely luck of the draw to get a spot.
Throughout the winter off season, restricted parking is out there on the practice depot. It appears like a historic constructing, as a result of it's, however that is additionally the place the Amtrak trains cease in Harpers Ferry.
Lastly, on-street parking exists within the Decrease City on a really restricted foundation. Cost is through a cellphone app. Notice that if you happen to do luck out and discover a spot right here through the busy season, you’ll should be very affected person with vacationers strolling down the center of the street.
Flying to Harpers Ferry
This small West Virginia city doesn’t have a significant airport of its personal. In the event you’re visiting from afar, fly into Washington Dulles (IAD), Washington Reagan (DCA), or Baltimore (BWI) and lease a automotive.
Just a few regional airports are close by, however flight choices are few and much between. Flying to DC or Baltimore is nearly at all times cheaper and simpler.
Amtrak Prepare from Washington, DC
Prepare journey within the US is fairly lackluster in comparison with the practice networks of Europe. Most People don’t even notice practice journey is an choice.
Nonetheless, on this space of the nation it's potential to take the Amtrak from Washington, DC however it would require an in a single day keep in Harpers Ferry.
The Amtrak practice leaves DC at 4:00PM and arrives at 5:15PM in Harpers Ferry, however the return isn’t till the subsequent morning. The practice leaves Harpers Ferry at 11:30AM and arrives in DC at 1:05PM.
Amtrak Prepare from Baltimore
Trains from Baltimore additionally hook up with Harpers Ferry, however all of them should undergo Washington, DC first. This simply provides time to your journey, for a complete transit time of two hours. (Driving is barely an hour, relying on site visitors.)
In the event you’re caught with out a automotive and need to get away for an in a single day keep in Harpers Ferry, it’s an choice.
What’s going to you do in Harpers Ferry?
With so many issues to do in Harpers Ferry, get pleasure from a day or weekend away soaking within the views, nature, and historical past of this historic city!
Different Issues to Do Close to Harpers Ferry
- Finest Jap US Street Journey Itinerary
- 7 Finest Quick and Simple Hikes in Shenandoah Nationwide Park
- Take an Auto Tour of Antietam Nationwide Battlefield
- A Gettysburg Nationwide Battlefield Self-Guided Auto Tour