• Sun beginning to set at Harpers Ferry, as seen from Maryland Heights. Photo by NPS Volunteer Buddy Secor.

    Harpers Ferry

    National Historical Park WV,VA,MD

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  • Temporary Suspension of Reference Collection Research

    Due to the park archives and research room/library space move, new public research requests will not be filled until at least June 30th, 2014.

  • Change in Park Hours

    The park is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last shuttle bus departing Lower Town at 6:45 p.m. More »


red-backed salamander

Red-backed salamanders are our most common salamanders. Most are easy to recognize with their black bodies and the bright red stripe down the middle of their back, but some have no red stripe. It grows to about 5 inches long.

By simply overturning a rock in a streambed, one may discover various amphibian species while visiting the park. Amphibians have both an aquatic larval stage and a terrestrial adult stage. For this reason they are considered effective indicators of pollution and water quality. Amphibians breed after significant spring rainfall events and females lay eggs in ponds, streams, and springs throughout the park. Depending on the species, metamorphosis can take from days to weeks to be completed.

The park is home to 8 frog and toad species and 6 species of salamanders. Some of the species found here include the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus), the dusky salamander (Desmognathus fuscus), the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer). An ongoing amphibian inventory is being performed within the park throughout the year 2002. Results will be made available to the public upon its completion.

Did You Know?

The present day view from Jefferson Rock is still breathtaking.

Thomas Jefferson visited Harpers Ferry in 1783 and wrote "The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature."