Climbing Management Plan

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cliff face of Maryland Heights
Maryland Heights cliffs

NPS photo/Volunteer K. Simmons


The climbing management plan will provide the framework to manage rock climbing and related activities within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

  • The plan will consider the protection of the natural and cultural resources and the public’s desire to enjoy the park through climbing and related activities.
  • It will also address impact issues associated with access routes to climbing areas and climbing routes.
  • It will be consistent with laws, regulations, policy, and guidance.

During plan development, the park will collect information on rock outcrops, including:

  • Locations,
  • Geology,
  • Ecological communities,
  • Important resources, and
  • Threats to those resources.

The park will also gather information on visitor recreational uses and their impacts on rock outcrop sites.

To learn more about climbing in Harpers Ferry NHP, visit our Climbing page.



  1. Preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources found in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park while providing for recreational climbing activities.
  2. Evaluate existing climbing within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to determine which areas should be open and closed.
  3. Supply a set of written regulations and closures that park management can use in the education of climbers visiting the park.
  4. Set forth a clearly defined set of requirements for climbing within the park that will allow for continued climbing activity within designated areas.
  5. Supply law enforcement rangers with written guidelines, mapped climbing areas, and common climbing practices to better enforce climbing regulations and preserve resources.
  6. Engage the climbing community in cooperative stewardship of natural resources and the climbing experience.
  7. Build a foundation of data (status of natural resources, climbing routes and use patterns, and visitor effects on resource values) as a basis for future decision making.
  8. Provide a framework for a climber education program.

Plan Process

Step 1: Data Collection

  1. Inventory and mapping of routes* (COMPLETE) - In coordination with the climbing community, the park has developed Geographic Information Systems mapping for all the climbing locations with the boundary of the park.
  2. Inventory of sensitive habitats and rare species (ONGOING) - The park is currently working with Pennsylvania State University to investigate the extent that recreational activities (e.g., rock climbing, fishing, hiking, and general visitation) affect the vegetation, primarily rare vascular species, in the shoreline, cliff-face, and cliff-top environments of Maryland Heights.
  3. Climbing user survey* (COMPLETE) - The park worked with a research team, led by Old Dominion University, to develop and conduct a user survey specific to climbing within the park.The results of the user survey will inform the climbing management plan for the park. Explore the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Climbing Study StoryMap below to learn more about the survey results or read the full report.

Step 2: Public scoping*

Step 3: Alternatives development and analysis for a range of potential management actions

Step 4: Development of draft plan / Environmental Assessment, including preferred management alternative

Step 5: Public review and comment period of draft Climbing Management Plan*

Step 6: Final plan and decision document published

*Opportunities for the public to provide input



The climbing management plan's research team has begun preliminary work, which will continue into fall 2022. Additional information about the process and how to get involved will be posted here as it becomes available.


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Last updated: November 7, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


304 535-6029

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