Climbing

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Where can I climb in Harpers Ferry?

The cliff faces within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are widely considered to be some of the best climbing in the area, drawing visitors to the cliffs each year. Within the park, there is a broad range of rock types, as well as a broad range of climbing, including traditional, top rope, belay, lead climbing and bouldering. See the Climbing at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park StoryMap for more reference information.

State

Climbing availability

Maryland

Open, except in seasonal peregrine falcon nesting areas

Virginia

Closed

West Virginia

Open, except for Jefferson Rock, Shenandoah Street Cliffs, and all cliffs along Shenandoah Street in the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry, WV

  • All climbing activities in Maryland are allowed with the exception of a seasonal closure for nesting peregrine falcons. This closure of a portion of the main cliff of Maryland Heights takes place between February 15 and July 31 in order to protect the nesting site(s). The closure for peregrine falcon protection is limited to the area where nesting occurs and is determined and adjusted each year.
  • Currently, all rock-climbing activities, including traditional, top rope, belay, lead climbing, bouldering, etc. within the legislative boundaries of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, in the state of Virginia are closed through a Superintendent's Compendium closure (2021). All closures are in effect until the park can complete a climbing management plan.
  • Climbing activities within the state of West Virginia within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are open, except for Jefferson Rock, Shenandoah Street Cliffs, and all cliffs along Shenandoah Street in the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry, WV.

2022 Seasonal Closures at Maryland Heights

From Feb. 16 to July 29, 2022, portions of Maryland Heights, including several climbing areas and rock outcroppings near the overlook, will be closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons. Learn more.

 
Map of climbing area closures to protect nesting peregrine falcons
2022 climbing area closures to protect nesting peregrine falcons

NPS

 
 

Regulations and Guidelines

  • Climbing on or around Jefferson Rock or anywhere along Shenandoah Street is prohibited per the Superintendent's Compendium.

  • Observe posted route closures; contact the park for specific closure areas.
  • Leave historical and natural objects undisturbed for the next visitor.
  • Please help protect your national park by not using vegetation as an anchor, do not deface, damage, or alter the natural rock surface, and practice Leave No Trace Principles. Do not leave gear on the cliffs or rocks.
  • Minimize erosion on your approach and descent. If an obvious main trail has been created, use it. Go slow on the way down to avoid pushing soil down the hill. Avoid walking on vegetation whenever possible
 

Climber Registration

  • Because the Lower Town Information Center is currently closed, climber registration is not required at this time.
  • Registration is required for all persons planning to climb on the cliff face on Maryland Heights. The free, required registration is in the best interest of the climber and the climbing community as it ensures climber safety, documents climbing use, and becomes part of a historical database.
  • To register before your climb, visit the Lower Town Information Center, ask the ranger or volunteer for the climbing registry book, and fill out your information in the log.
 

Safety Tips

  • Be prepared for current weather conditions.
  • Use appropriate equipment.
  • Make sure all of your gear is in good, working condition.
  • Wear a helmet.
  • Stay within your abilities.
  • Take drinking water.
  • In the event of an emergency, call 911.
 
Peregrine falcon in flight
Peregrine falcon

NPS / Kelly J.

Peregrine Falcon Nesting

 

Development of Climbing Management Plan

The park is developing a climbing management plan to provide the framework to manage rock climbing and related activities within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Learn more about the process on our Climbing Management Plan page.

 

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Last updated: March 4, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
National Park Service
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry , WV 25425

Phone:

304 535-6029

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