Mountain Mama Vacation Homes

DC to Harpers Ferry: Travel Options

The work week has been long, and it’s time for a break! So escape the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC, to the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry.

This historic town is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts who love hiking and biking. It is the ideal location for a cabin getaway. Travelers coming from DC will love how easy it is to get to Harpers Ferry, with multiple transportation options for ultimate convenience.

About Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is ideally situated for a long weekend from Washington, DC. Located on the northeast corner of West Virginia and easily accessed by car, train, bike, or even by foot, you are only a short distance from some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in the region.

This charming town is also a must-visit for American history enthusiasts and for those simply seeking a relaxing escape nestled in the Appalachian mountains.

Getting to Harpers Ferry by Car

Photo Credit: Pushish Images
  • Travel Time: 1 hour 15 min
  • Highlights: Several scenic stops along the way.

The journey from Washington, DC, to Harpers Ferry by car is around 65 miles, depending on the route, and is a pleasant drive through rolling farmland with lovely mountain views. Make this drive a mini road trip, and enjoy some stops along the way!

The Route

You will start by heading out of DC on the George Washington Memorial Parkway before connecting with I-495, I-270, and then US-50. This typically takes less than 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and any stops you wish to make along the way.

Scenic Stops Along the Way

Just before you reach Frederick, Maryland, consider a short detour off the interstate to visit Sugarloaf Mountain. This Registered National Landmark is a fantastic place for a short hike with beautiful views from the top of the mountain. Have a relaxing picnic lunch at the designated picnic area before returning to your drive towards Harpers Ferry.

Continue on to Frederick and stop here for an educational museum visit. This charming and historic Maryland city is home to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum, both great destinations for those interested in American history.

Road Trip Tips

Road trips are a fun and affordable way to travel between destinations. The route between DC and Harpers Ferry is quick and easy and has numerous exciting stops along the way.

Have a Flexible Schedule

One of the best tips for any road trip, but especially the trip between DC and Harpers Ferry, is to have a flexible schedule.

First, there is always the chance that you will run into traffic, especially around a major city like Washington, DC.

Additionally, you want to allow yourself plenty of time to make any pit stops you desire! Whether it is to stop for a quick snack and coffee or you want to spend a few hours hiking, flexibility is key for having an enjoyable road trip.

Download a Map Before Leaving

It is a good idea for any road trip to download an offline version of the map or carry a physical map with you.

Although the route between DC and Harpers Ferry is well-developed, it is always possible to lose service as you drive through the mountains or rural areas, especially the closer you get to Harpers Ferry. This is even more essential if you intend to go off-route for additional stops along the way. Being over-prepared is better than being underprepared!

Stock Up on Snacks

Finally, remember to stop for groceries along the way if you intend to use your cabin’s kitchen during your stay. There are plenty of grocery stores within a 10-minute drive of Harpers Ferry, including Walmart, Aldi, and Martin’s, but if you want to stop along the way you can find these stores and several others around Frederick, Maryland.

Getting to Harpers Ferry by Train

Photo Credit: AJ Packer

Want to avoid dealing with a car during your getaway? Public transportation is here to remove all the traffic pains and the need to navigate roads. There are two options by train, the MARC and Amtrak Capitol Limited Line.

The MARC Train

  • Travel Time: 1 hour 30 min
  • Frequency: Flexibility in departures, Monday through Friday.
    • Train Schedules: MARC
  • Washington, DC Station: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC
  • Harpers Ferry Station: Potomac St & Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV

The MARC train (Maryland Area Rail Commuter) from Washington, DC, to Harpers Ferry and operated by Amtrak, is a simple, quick, and affordable option to get you away to this peaceful paradise.

It is the best option for Monday through Friday travel and has a schedule that favors commuters. The MARC Brunswick Line can get you from the bustle of the city to your cabin paradise in around an hour and a half.

The MARC has one departure from Washington, DC, on Monday and three departures Tuesday through Friday.

Because this is a commuter train, the return schedule runs early, with several departures from 5 am to 7 am Monday through Friday.

The Amtrak Capitol Limited Line Train

  • Travel Time: 1 hour 10 min
  • Frequency: One departure daily, seven days a week.
  • Train Schedules: Amtrak
  • Washington, DC Station: 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC
  • Harpers Ferry Station: Potomac St & Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV

Amtrak’s “Capitol Limited” line runs from Washington DC to Chicago with a stop in Harpers Ferry daily.

The train from DC departs from Union Station every day around 4 pm and arrives just after 5 pm. This is the perfect timing, allowing you to settle into your cabin before venturing out to grab dinner at one of the tasty Harpers Ferry establishments.

To return to DC, a once-daily train departs from the Harpers Ferry train station around 11:30 am and arrives in the DC area around 1 pm.

Train Tickets

The ticket price for a train journey starts at around $17 each way, with optional add-ons such as a bike or a pet. Travelers are allowed two personal items, two carry-on bags, and two checked bags.

Transport From the Harpers Ferry Train Station to Your Rental

Harpers Ferry is a very walkable town, so if your rental is in town, then the train could be a fantastic way to visit. However, if your cabin is on the outskirts of town or you have a lot of bags, you may be better served by using a rideshare service from the train station or driving.

Tips and Tricks for Train Travel

Whether you are brand new to traveling by train or you do it daily, there are a few tips that can help you get the most out of your trip to Harpers Ferry by train.

  • Bring your identification. A photo ID or passport is required.
  • Don’t forget your tickets. These can be printed, or you can show the eTicket on your phone.
  • Pack snacks. The time between DC and Harpers Ferry is short, but you may want to pack a few snacks and beverages. Bringing your own food and drinks, including alcoholic drinks, is allowed on Amtrak trains.
  • Pack carefully. Make sure your cabin packing list includes everything you need! Although you’ll have a generous luggage allowance, it can be difficult to maneuver on and off the train if you have too many bags.

Getting to Harpers Ferry by Bike

Photo Credit: Julie Clopper
  • Distance: 60 miles
  • Highlights: The thrill of the ride and connecting to nature.
  • Route: The C&O Canal Towpath

For the more adventurous travelers, it is actually possible to reach Harpers Ferry from DC by bike! The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Towpath, or the C&O Canal Towpath for short, is a historic trail alongside the canal, stretching nearly 185 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland, Maryland, with Harpers Ferry right in the middle.

The Journey

To reach Harpers Ferry from Georgetown, expect around 60 miles of biking on the stone and dirt path. This will probably take you at least two days, but there are plenty of great options for an overnight along the trail.

Once you reach Harpers Ferry, you simply walk your bike up the towpath access by the Potomac, and you’re all set!

Bike Accessibility in Harpers Ferry

Downtown Harpers Ferry is a bike-friendly town with plenty of great biking trails. You will find plenty of bike racks throughout the town. In addition, if you plan to visit the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the shuttle is also equipped with racks.

Although a long bike journey might not be ideal for everyone, it is a very fun and unique way for avid cyclists to get between DC and Harpers Ferry. If you are short on time, consider only biking one way and utilizing the train to return to Washington, DC: Amtrak trains offer a checked bicycle service.

Enjoy the Trip to Harpers Ferry

The journey from Washington, DC, to the charming, historic town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is simple and well worth the effort. With numerous transportation options and a short distance of only 65 miles, Harpers Ferry is the perfect destination for anyone looking to enjoy a cabin getaway in a beautiful mountain town.

From contemporary cottages to mountaintop cabins, your perfect vacation home rental is waiting in Harpers Ferry.


Ready to book?

We have provided everything you need and what’s more,
book direct and you’ll enjoy the best rates for our rural holiday home.