Nature & Science

From the rolling mountains of the Blue Ridge surrounding the historic town to the rushing waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers bordering it, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has many natural resources to enjoy, along with its rich cultural resources.

When visiting the park, hike up to Jefferson Rock and enjoy the view of the water gap where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, or take a trip up to the Maryland Heights overlook to get an amazing view of Harpers Ferry. While hiking, one will probably notice that the majority of the park is forested. Actually, 70% of the land in the park is covered with eastern deciduous forest, consisting of species such as chestnut oak (Quercus prinus), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), red maple (Acer rubrum), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and pawpaw (Asimina triloba). Also take time to observe some of the over 170 bird species and more than 30 mammal species in the park. These species include such beauties as the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), the red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), the white-tailed deer (Odocoeilus virginianus), and the southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans).

  • Mottled brown wood ducks on a log in water

    Amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds, spiders, and insects

  • Dirt path through Virginia bluebell patch in the woods

    Ferns, grasses, trees and shrubs, and wildflowers

  • View at sunset of Lower Town Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights overlook
    Environmental Factors

    Geologic activity, non-native species, scenic vistas, and weather

  • Mixed hardwood forest in autumn
    Natural Features & Ecosystems

    Flood plains, forests, geologic formations, mountains, rivers and streams, soils, and wetlands, marshes, and swamps


Researching Nature at Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is a natural oasis for visitors and for scientific researchers because of its protected natural landscape. The research done here provides the accurate and current natural resource information we need to provide to best care for the park. Scientists look at what key resources are present in the park, if they are stable or changing, how ecosystems are changing over time, and how much change is normal.

Like a physician monitoring a patient's heartbeat and blood pressure, National Park Service ecologists with the National Capital Region Inventory & Monitoring Network collect long-term data on forest vegetation, bird and amphibian communities, water quality, and other key resources at Harpers Ferry, analyze the monitoring results, and share them with the park.
Read more in the articles below about researchers studying nature at Harpers Ferry and nearby national parks.

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    Last updated: June 30, 2022

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    Contact Info

    Mailing Address:

    Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
    National Park Service
    PO Box 65

    Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


    304 535-6029

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