Mountain Mama Vacation Homes

7 Best Tours in Harpers Ferry

Red and green historical buildings, virile rivers, and striking sights of the Appalachian Mountains set the stage for a vacation to remember here in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

So, what’s on your itinerary? Sure, you could spend hours gazing at the stars from your rental’s outdoor hot tub, wander one of our manor’s vineyards, or even spend an entire day exploring the town’s culinary delights, but a Harper’s Ferry tour cannot be missed. 

Rub shoulders with 18th-century American history, get a taste of the supernatural, or dive headfirst into nature’s ethereal and everlasting presence in the town’s lakes, forests, and rivers. 

To best experience this magical part of the state, we’ve curated a list of the best tours in town.

1. Harpers Ferry Park Association Historical Tours

Photo Credit: Steve Heap
  • Location: 723 Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV 
  • Notable features: John Brown’s Raid, Storer College, and Virginius Island tours. 
  • Pricing: $80.00 for 1-6 guests | $130.00 for 7-20 guests | $180.00 for 21-40 guests | $225.00 for 41+ guests

Looking for general tours about the history of Harpers Ferry? The Harpers Ferry Park Association is a great place to start with certified guided tours.  

Are you a Civil War Buff? The original 2.5-hour Harpers Ferry tour brings participants around the important locations throughout the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where you’ll learn about events like John Brown’s Raid, people like Merriweather Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame), and places like Storer College, a historically black college in Harpers Ferry from the late 1800s to mid-1900s. 

These guided tours will also educate you about the town’s geography and the role of its natural resources in the waterpower industry. The latest addition? A 2.5-hour tour of Virginius Island — a once-thriving industrial area with preserved ruins, from old turbines and mills to an old factory, now overgrown with nature. 

2. River Riders Guided Whitewater Rafting

Photo Credit: Zack Frank
  • Location: 408 Alstadts Hill Rd., Harpers Ferry, WV 
  • Notable Feature: Group discounts; nature and adventure-focused tour
  • Pricing: $79.99/ adult and $74.99/ child under 12 years old

More of an adventure seeker than a tour-taker? Or maybe you’re traveling with thrill-seeking teenagers. Either way, a whitewater rafting tour from River Riders delivers the experience you’re looking for. 

TripAdvisor has deemed it the top outdoor activity in the area for the last ten years — and we concur! An experienced tour guide will ride with you on the dreamy Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers for a solid 2-3 hours.

Just how big are the waves? Rapids range depending on the season, with higher levels and intensity in the spring bringing more bumps and thrills. But if you’re after a more serene, calm water experience, the smooth waves of the summer and winter seasons will surely deliver. 

You can also upgrade your tour to use inflatable kayaks instead of a raft, a teamwork-focused activity that creates lifelong memories. 

3. “O’ Be Joyfull” Harpers Ferry Historical Walking Tours

Photo Credit: EQRoy
  • Location: St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 110 Church St, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • Notable feature: Independent tour guide with a personal, local touch.
  • Pricing: $36/ adult and $15/ child 8-12 years old

History buffs, to the front! You might have heard of Harpers Ferry’s role in the Civil War and anti-slavery events — but why not dive deeper and learn about it with one longtime local’s walking tours? 

Spanning between 3 and 4 hours, the O’ Be Joyfull tour starts right from the beginning with George Washington. Then, it covers the dazzling history of Harpers Ferry, from the manufacturing industry to industrialization, all the way to the Civil War. 

As for your tour guide? Say hello to Rick Garland, a passionate storyteller who conducts the entire experience wearing 19th-century garb. We love the local touch that he adds, showcasing both his expertise and fervor for the town’s rich history. He hosts tours rain or shine, though inclement weather means you’ll be hosted at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. 

4. Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry 

Photo Credit: Jon Bilous
  • Location: St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 110 Church St, Harpers Ferry, WV
  • Notable features: Lower-town attraction, supernatural-focused tour.
  • Pricing: $18 for adults | $14 for kids 8-12 years | Free for kids under 8

Open year-round and consistently voted the #1 tour on Tripadvisor in Harpers Ferry, this ghost tour, put on by O’ Be Joyfull Historical Tours and Entertainment, is an itinerary must! You’ll visit the lower town of Harpers Ferry, among a few other areas known to house the agitated spirits of those who have gone before us. 

Here are some of the spooky players

  • Screaming Jenny, who, legend has it, sat by the fire and accidentally got caught in the flames before jumping in front of a train and dying. 
  • Phantom Army, a group of soldiers who died of cholera in the late 18th century, occasionally seen in their ghostly figures with drums and rifles
  • Father Michael Costello, one of the original priests of St. Peter’s who is said to still roam the church.   

St. Peter’s Church is the base of the O’ Be Joyfull Tours, and it’s a pretty sight in and of itself. Granite walls, antique bells, and sandstone-lined windows take you back as you rejoice in this holy place.  

5. River and Trail Outfitters Guided Tour Hikes

Photo Credit: Lissandra Melo
  • Location: 99 Cary Lu Circle, Unit 108, Harpers Ferry, WV 
  • Notable feature: Best for large groups of 10+ who love the outdoors and history.
  • Pricing: $10-30/ adult, $10-$25/ child 12 and under

Planning a family reunion? Traveling with groups of 10+ comes with unique stresses, especially if you’re the main point of contact. And then there’s all the reservations and activity planning. 

Sure, you could check out Harpers Ferry’s nearby hiking trails solo, but why not go with a knowledgeable guide instead? River and Trail Outfitters hosts large-group tours just a 40-minute walk from the city center. 

Try out the Maryland Heights Trail Hike, which takes hikers about half a day to complete. As you climb up these stunning hills and mountains, you’ll eventually get to the Harpers Ferry Overlook, which looks over WV, VA, and MD, as well as the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. 

But back to the big group dilemma. If you need help picking the perfect rental for your large group? We’ve got you covered with properties that sleep up to 14 guests!

6. Self-Guided Walking Tour of John Brown’s Fort

Photo Credit: Steven Frame
  • Location: 814 Shenandoah St, Harpers Ferry, WV 
  • Notable feature: Dog-friendly, flexible, and self-guided.
  • Pricing: Free to get into the fort, but a $20/ vehicle entrance fee for the park is enforced by the NPS.

Let’s offer a happy medium for travelers who love tours and those with shorter attention spans. If you’re eager to explore a historical landmark solo or, at least, with the freedom to explore at your own pace, why not try a self-guided tour? 

The attraction? John Brown’s Fort, which was the site of the abolitionist John Brown’s raid. Here, he hatched a plan to seize the Harpers Ferry armory in 1859, aiming to end slavery. While his 36-hour attack was fatal to him and his 21 men, John Brown’s Raid became one of the incredible spark points for the American Civil War. 

John Brown’s Fort has been moved from its original spot multiple times since the time of John Brown and his Army of Liberation. The fort has been as far as Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition and as close as Storer College in Harpers Ferry, but it now sits about 200 feet from its original spot. The armory has been part of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park since 1968 and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS).

7. Self-Guided Civil War to Civil Rights Tour

Photo Credit: Kelly vanDellen
  • Location: 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, WV 
  • Notable feature: Multiple historical sites covered, lots of time for walking and exploring.
  • Pricing: $20/ vehicle entrance fee for the park enforced by the NPS.

Last on the docket? Another fabulous self-guided tour with historical flavor — specifically, the Civil War. This one-day self-guided tour at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was put together by the National Park Service and brings you to see all of the sites of this historic town. 

They kick things off at the visitor center, where you’ll park in the adjacent parking lot. You’ll then access the lower town and John Brown’s Fort by foot. Not only will you take in amazingly restored historic buildings, but you’ll also relish the unique offerings of many shops and cafes. Croissant, anyone? Next stop: the Civil War Battlefields Driving Tour, where you’ll see Bolivar Heights, North and South Schoolhouse Ridge, and Murphy Chambers Farm. 

You can get out, look around at most of these sites, and maybe even explore the hiking trails if you’re up for it! 

Embrace West Virginia with Mountain Mama Cabins!

This enchanting town speaks to the hearts of everyone that visits. While you’re here, immerse yourself in all Harpers Ferry offers by embarking on one or even multiple lovely tours. 

And once you’ve indulged in enough tours on your day trip? Head back to your luxurious rental, where you can rinse off from a full day in a rejuvenating shower, put on your most comfy pajamas, and crawl into your big, beautiful bed for the best sleep of your life. Mountain views await you in the morning!


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