Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is the mountain getaway you’ve been searching for. Home to the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and close to Baltimore and Washington DC, you’ll love spending a long weekend among pristine nature, impressive history, and a charming small town that truly welcomes its visitors.
Once you’ve settled into your vacation rental home, you’ll quickly realize that there is so much to do both in and near Harpers Ferry. Since it’s located at the confluence of the Potomac River and Shenandoah River, tubing is one of the must-do activities.
Along with lazy river tubing options, you can get a little more adventurous and opt for whitewater rafting in sections of the rivers with more rapids. For this article though, we’ll stick with what you need to know to plan the perfect Harpers Ferry tubing adventure. Let’s dive right in!
What Is Tubing in Harpers Ferry & Why Is It So Popular?
Tubing is simple: grab a tube, hop into the river, and enjoy a leisurely float. In Harpers Ferry, tubing has long been a favorite summertime activity. When temperatures rise, the river beckons as a refreshing activity in the great outdoors.
But it’s not just the cool water that draws tubers to Harpers Ferry. It’s also the scenery and the wildlife! There’s no better place to take in Harpers Ferry’s soaring cliffs, majestic wildlife (including golden eagles, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons), and lush landscape than from one of its twin rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah.
In fact, Harpers Ferry is consistently ranked one of the top rivers in the entire US for tubing.
What Do I Need for Tubing in Harpers Ferry?
If you’re the DIY-type, all you need for a day of tubing in Harpers Ferry is a tube and a life jacket, though other items may make the trip more fun (like a floating cooler)!
The main difficulty is that if you drift down the river you will need some way to get back to your car. Outdoor outfitters in Harpers Ferry solve this problem by providing everything from full-service tubing (they provide all the gear rentals and the shuttle) to shuttle-only service (you provide your own gear, and they provide the ride back to your car).
Who Offers Tubing in Harpers Ferry?
There are three outfitters who provide epic outdoor adventures in Harpers Ferry. All three of these companies offer other tours than just tubing so they’re a good starting point to plan a zip-lining, kayaking, or whitewater rafting trip, too.
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center
- Address: 37410 Adventure Center Ln, Purcellville, VA
- Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm Thursday to Monday
Harpers Ferry Adventure Center has its own private take-out on the shores of the Potomac River. At the end of your trip, hop out of the river and catch their short shuttle up to the top of the hill where you parked your car.
There are 2 options for tubing with this outfit:
- Flat water tubing – families with children and groups of friends love to head out on a flat water tubing adventure on the Shenandoah River. This easy, flat route is a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours and you can even rent a floating cooler to take drinks and snacks out on the water with you.
- White water tubing – this adventure takes place where the Potomac River and Shenandoah Rivers converge and certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted! Tubers can take a break from the class I-III waves by hopping up on one of the large rocks along the river and enjoying a scenic picnic before heading back out on the water.
There’s also a wide range of other activities on offer at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, including zip lining, rope course, and rafting, and it’s also possible to stay overnight at the onsite campground. This means that there are various packages on offer that combine water and dry land activities for an exciting day to remember.
Before you leave the area stop at Harpers Ferry Brewery for a beer and a view over the river that you won’t want to miss!
- Address: 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
- Opening hours: 8.30 am – 5.30 pm Monday to Thursday / 8.30 am – 7 pm Friday to Sunday
River Riders’ claim to fame is that their whitewater tubing trips are longer than their competitors, thanks to the fact that they have a private put-in on the Potomac upriver from historic Harpers Ferry. The team has over three decades of experience facilitating tubing trips, so you know you’re in good hands with them.
There are 5 options available for tubers:
- Flat water tubing – spend a few hours floating down Shenandoah River while you relax and enjoy the views and the Harpers Ferry sunshine. This lazy river-style trip is suitable for children over 30 lbs as long as they are supervised by an adult.
- Whitewater tubing – if you’re looking for thrills and spills, opt for the whitewater tubing option on the Potomac River. This section of the river ranges from class I to III depending on water levels and is only suitable for strong swimmers aged ten and over.
- Full-day tubing – spend 5-7 hours out on the water to experience the best of Harpers Ferry’s waterways. You can combine flat water and whitewater, or stick to whichever you prefer for the entire day.
- Full-day adventure pass – choose from one guided and one self-guided activity to make the most of a hot summer’s day out on the water. As well as tubing, canoeing, zip lining, and kayaking are all available onsite.
- Season pass – float alongside Maryland and Virginia all summer long with a season pass that lets you get out on the water as much as you want.
River & Trail Outfitters
- Address: 99 Cary Lu Cir Unit 108, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
- Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily
River and Trail has 3 different tubing trip options for flat water tubing and white water rafting adventures. Each itinerary is designed to suit tubers of different ages and abilities to ensure that everyone has the best day possible out on the water. Walk-ins are possible but it’s best to book in advance.
The 3 itineraries to choose from are:
- Shenandoah River – tubing here is the most mellow option and is the perfect place for family and friends to spend an hour or two cooling off. The water here is calm enough for children to tube safely while accompanied by an adult.
- Potomac River – this whitewater tubing trip tackles up to class III waves and is a true river tubing adventure that takes you through three different states while delivering stunning views of historic Harpers Ferry. Tubers must be over the age of 12, weigh more than 90 lbs, and be happy to sign a waiver to say that they are physically fit enough to self-rescue if they are separated from their tubes.
- Delux Potomac River – this three-hour float glides down a calm, secluded part of the river and is a scenic, relaxing way to enjoy tubing. Experienced guides will point out sites of interest, and you may also see a bald eagle or a great blue heron. Soft coolers are water bottles are permitted.
A Ride to Remember in Harpers Ferry
If you’re visiting Harpers Ferry during the spring and summer seasons, getting out on the river is one of the very best ways to enjoy our little slice of natural paradise. Simply check in to one of our incredible Harpers Ferry cabins and vacation homes, head to one of the outfitters above, then get ready to have a tubing adventure to remember.