Park Watch Program

a volunteer poses with his dog
Park Watch Volunteer Dave C. with his dog Rosie at The Point


The Park Watch Program was designed in the Spring of 2015 at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as a way to meet the growing needs and address many of the issues on the park's trails and surrounding lands and buildings. Several division representatives of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park identified the Maryland Heights Trail as a problem area in the park, and the need for a Park Watch Program was discussed at the 2015 Volunteers in Parks Meeting. The consensus amongst park staff was that the growing popularity of the Maryland Heights Trail has become too high for park staff to properly and efficiently patrol on their own. The issues that were affecting the trail and its resources could not be allowed to continue. The Maryland Heights Park Watch Program addressed these issues.

In January 2016, due to the success of the program and volunteer interest in other areas, the Maryland Heights Park Watch Program shortened its name to Park Watch Program and expanded to include all areas of the park.

Program Goal and Philosophy

The Park Watch Program is a National Park Service sponsored program designed to utilize volunteers to reduce vandalism, looting and destruction of natural and cultural resources, visitor violations, and trail hazards. The volunteers will be the “eyes and ears” for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Law Enforcement and Maintenance staff. Volunteers also enhance visitor services and will work closely with Interpretation, Education and Public Outreach staff. Trained Park Watch volunteers will patrol the park using a randomized patrol method of their choosing, but will still be at the discretion of the Program Managers or the on-duty Ranger. Park Watch volunteers will also be able to assist park visitors with wayfinding and answering general questions and questions about the history of the park.The primary operating philosophy of the Park Watch Program is for members to observe and report to the Program Managers or the on-duty Ranger. It is not to confront or approach suspects or violators. Park Watch Program volunteers have no police or park authority.

Park Watch Program volunteers carry out assignments with a high degree of public trust. Respect for the Park, visitors, staff and other Park Watch Program volunteers is required, and is essential to the program’s success.

Apply to Volunteer

The Park Watch Program is so successful that we have to limit the number of participants, and thus at this time we are not accepting applications for new volunteers within this program.

If you are interested in volunteering in the national park in another capacity, please email us.

Last updated: January 18, 2022

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425


304 535-6029

Contact Us

Stay Connected