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.
Know before you go! Some areas are currently closed to climbing.
Where can I climb in Harpers Ferry?
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 states of Virginia and West Virginia are closed through a Superintendent's Compendium closure (2021). All closures are in effect until the park can complete a climbing management plan.
All climbing related activities in the state of Virginia within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are currently closed.
Climbing activities within the state of West Virginia within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park are currently closed. Specifically, those within the park are Jefferson Rock, Shenandoah Street Cliffs, and all cliffs along Shenandoah Street in the Lower Town of Harpers Ferry, WV. These are the only climbing areas within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Other climbing areas in West Virginia that are not listed here are not within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.
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.
Goals of the Climbing Management Plan
A climbing management plan will provide the framework to manage rock climbing and related activities within Harpers Ferry 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. The plan will address impact issues associated with access routes to climbing areas, climbing routes and will be consistent with laws, regulations, policy, and guidance. During the development of the plan, information will be collected on rock outcrops including locations, geology, ecological communities, important resources, and threats to those resources. Information will also be gathered on visitor recreational uses and their impacts on rock outcrop sites. The goals for the plan include the following.
*Opportunities for the public to provide input
Inventory and Mapping of Routes
Inventory of Sensitive Habitats and Rare Species
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) affects the vegetation, primarily rare vascular species, in the shoreline, cliff-face, and cliff-top environments of Maryland Heights.
Climbing User Survey – COMING SOON
The park has been working with a research team, led by Old Dominion University, to develop a user survey specific to climbing within the park. The user survey will inform the climbing management plan for the park.
Timeline for Climbing Management Plan
Work will begin on the climbing management plan in the Fall of 2021. Additional information about the process and how to get involved will be available at that time.
Regulations and Guidelines
Peregrine Falcon Nesting
Last updated: May 6, 2021