Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, located on the border of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, is important to providing access to the outdoors for the DC metro region. It is a significant climbing resource in the mid-Atlantic, providing unique opportunities for multi-pitch traditional climbing, top roping, and bouldering. Mid Atlantic Climbers (MAC), Access Fund (AF), American Alpine Club (AAC), and Outdoor Alliance DMV (OA DMV) have been working to restore climbing access to areas in the West Virginia and Virginia portions of the park that were closed without opportunity for public input in 2017, and to assist the Park in preparation for the development of a climbing management plan.
Following meetings and conversations with our organizations, in June 2021 the Park updated its climbing access page and reduced its publicly stated climbing closures in West Virginia. This is a positive step forward towards addressing concerns from the local climbing community. Climbing opportunities in the state of Virginia remain closed due to park concerns regarding parking and cultural resource protection (despite that some of the climbing and bouldering in Virginia use the same parking and are part of the same geologic feature as some of the climbing in West Virginia). Seasonal closures on Maryland Heights to protect peregrine falcons are also in effect through July 31. MAC, AF, AAC, OA DMV, and other climbing organizations have long supported these seasonal closures.
MAC, AF, AAC, and OA DMV are encouraged to hear that the Park is open to further discussion about increasing and securing climbing access through the climbing management planning process. We hope that this process will be inclusive and consider a wide-ranging set of perspectives from the local climbing community. Our organizations are committed to advancing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the outdoors, and will advocate for a process and a management plan that represent these values.
Climber user survey
Prior to the official start to the climbing management planning process, MAC, AF, AAC, OA DMV, and other partners closely coordinated with researchers who developed a climbing use survey. We thank the more than 350 community members who participated in the survey in order to inform the upcoming climbing management plan.
Learn more about the climbing management plan and sign up for updates on the Park’s website here.