Harpers Ferry is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in West Virginia. Located at the confluence of the North Branch Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, Harpers Ferry is town rich in history, natural resources, and other attractions.
Harpers Ferry’s unique location is, and always has been a vital influence to its economy, history, and culture. Much of present day Harpers Ferry lies within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. The nearby area is intersected by the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. The town is also intersected by the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail.
At Harpers Ferry, there are several options for paddlers, ranging from beginner level to expert. For first-time kayakers, there are paddling classes, guided tours, and other services. Intermediate kayakers can rent a kayak or bring their own craft.
For recreational kayakers, the area has much to offer. The views from Harpers Ferry are spectacular. From an overlook above the town, Thomas Jefferson described the view as “stupendous and worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” At lower town Harpers Ferry, the area known as The Point offers extensive views of the rivers below.
Harpers Ferry is also popular with whitewater kayakers and other paddlesports enthusiasts. Popular stretches on the North Branch Potomac include the Needles, White Horse Rapids. On the Shenandoah River, challenging stretches are found at Entrance Rapids, Bull Falls, and Staircase Rapids.
Both the North Branch Potomac and Shenandoah rivers are popular fishing destinations. Anglers fishing near Harpers Ferry target smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, tiger musky, sunfish, catfish, and other species.
Several kayaking-related events are held near Harpers Ferry, including the Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival, Tim Gavin Down River Race, and others.
Accommodations at Harpers Ferry include hotels, bed and breakfasts, and hostels. For a more outdoor experience, riverfront camping is available at local campgrounds. Above and below Harpers Ferry, primitive camping areas are located within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
To plan a trip to Harpers Ferry, outdoor enthusiasts can start by contacting the Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Visitors Center, outfitters, bed and breakfasts, and other local resources.