Safety

Can't find the information you're looking for? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about the park and how you can plan a successful visit.

 
Lower half of hiker standing on cliff edge
Follow these tips to recreate responsibly at Harpers Ferry

NPS photo/Volunteer E. Hartlaub

Know Before You Go

  • Plan like a park ranger with these tips.
  • Share your plans - if possible, let someone who is not coming with you know details about your planned activities.
  • Bring and carry enough water for your visit.
  • Check the weather and plan accordingly. Severe weather conditions may occur suddenly and without warning, creating unsafe conditions. See these examples of severe weather conditions and tips for staying safe if you encounter extreme weather during your visit:
    • High wind gusts - many of our trails are tree-lined paths, where trees and branches can fall in windy situations. Stay away from these areas if winds are gusting. If caught in a high wind situation, find an open area away from trees and stay there until the winds subside.
    • Snow and ice - many parts of our park, especially wooded or shaded areas, can be heavily impacted in winter weather events. Avoid shaded trails if heavy snow or ice is expected. Use extreme caution when accessing the park after a winter weather event, and check the park website and social media channels for condition updates.
    • Flooding - the park occupies the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers and is susceptible to flooding. In the event of a flood, check the park website and social media channels for condition updates and closures.
    • High heat advisory - wear light, loose fitting clothes. Drink plenty of water before recreating. Bring more water than usual with you and stop often to drink and give your body a chance to rest. If you feel faint or dizzy, stop and rest in the shade and drink plenty of water. If you begin to feel chilled or nauseated, call for help. These are the first signs of heat stroke.
    • Cold advisory - stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during, and after recreating. Dress in layers and remove layers as you warm up and before you begin to sweat. If you sweat, immediately remove some outer layers and allow body to dry before placing layers back on. Protect your extremities. Wear gloves, ear muffs, and face mask if needed.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots.
  • If you're planning to bring a pet, be familiar with the park's pet policies.
  • Dress appropriately for your recreational activity and weather. Wearing layers is a good idea year-round, so you can remove or add clothing as needed.
  • If hiking, dress for success in the woods to avoid ticks! Wear long pants, long sleeves, light-colored clothing, and a hat. Consider spraying your clothing with insect repellant containing DEET or other EPA-approved repellent.
 

Recreate Responsibly

  • Be Aware - The streets in Harpers Ferry are not closed to traffic. Please stay on designated walkways. Some trails and connectors require visitors to cross roads and active railroad tracks. Please use signed crosswalks where available and always look out for cars and trains. The railroads in Harpers Ferry are active, and trains come through town many times each day.
  • Respect Park Resources - Ruins and remnants of buildings and walls are found throughout the park.These areas are important, fragile resources. Please do not walk, sit or stand on these areas. Occasionally, artifacts (glass, pottery, etc.) are found on the ground. Please do not pick up or remove these items. Notify a park ranger as to the location of the item(s). You can find beautiful flora and fauna throughout the park. Vegetation, although pretty or unusual looking, should be left as it is: take only pictures, leave only footprints.
  • Respect Wildlife - Help us keep wildlife wild. Observe and photograph all wildlife from a distance. Never approach or feed wildlife. It is dangerous and illegal to feed wild animals in national parks. Wildlife can become dependent on handouts and lose their ability to forage for food, causing them to starve. Such animals can lose their fear of humans and become aggressive. Animals can be very protective of their young and can become aggressive if cornered.
  • Hike Safely - please stay on designated trails to avoid impacting plants or cultural resources. Staying on the trail also reduces your risk of running into trail hazards. Depending on the season, you may encounter: poison ivy, poison sumac, ticks, bees and other stinging/biting insects, gnats, chiggers, copperhead snakes, rattlesnakes, slippery rocks, windy conditions, falling trees, dehydration, and other trail hazards. Use caution, stay away from cliff edges, and stop by the park’s visitor center or information center for more information on staying safe during your hike.
  • Know Your Location - Harpers Ferry National Historical Park encompasses more than the historic Lower Town. Be familiar with where you are: if an emergency occurs, your ability to provide park and/or emergency staff with your location is important.

Last updated: January 28, 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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