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Wheelchair Accessible Harpers Ferry

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Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

With kids!

Harpers Ferry is a gem for both history buffs and nature lovers. Known for its stunning views and iconic landmarks, its high on many traveler’s lists. There isn’t a lot of accessibility information available online, and places like this can be challenging without proper research and planning.

This quaint town nestled amidst the mountains and rivers of West Virginia, is step back in time… before ADA. However, don’t let accessibility limitations discourage you from visiting. We found plenty to do to make it worth our time.

If you’re ready to embark on a journey and discover the charm of wheelchair accessible Harpers Ferry, read on for the best routes, where to find accessible breathtaking views, how to navigate the historic district, and to learn about accessible restrooms and amenities. Let’s start exploring!

Getting there and around

When exploring Harpers Ferry, one of the biggest challenges can be finding convenient and accessible parking spots. The town’s narrow streets and limited parking options can make it difficult to find a space close to your destination. However, with a bit of research and a few helpful tips, you can minimize your stress and maximize your time exploring this historic town.

Most visitors shuttle into Harpers Ferry from the National Historical Park entrance on Shoreline Drive, just outside of town. This lot has several accessible spaces and is equipped with ramps and other amenities. From there, you can take the accessible shuttle bus into town or walk along the Riverfront Trail to reach the historic district (it’s pretty far).

Another option is the Lower Town Lot, at the Harpers Ferry Train Station. You can park in this National Park lot for free with your America the Beautiful pass. We liked this option because it’s significantly closer to the town center. The only downside is it’s a small lot – be sure to arrive early to secure a spot and make the most of your visit.

If you have a disabled parking permit, you may be able to park in designated spaces on the street. Be sure to check the signage carefully, as some spaces may have time limits or other restrictions.

The sidewalks in Harpers Ferry are occasionally accessible, but we found it easier to just walk on the street. Because most people use the shuttle, the streets aren’t busy. However, be cautious as there may be the occasional tourist in a hurry.

Visitor’s Center (or information center)

Whether you begin at the information center outside of town, or skip right to the lower lot, your first stop needs to be a visitor’s center! From the lower lot, take a stroll down Shenandoah Street, the main street in town. The visitor’s center is the first building past Arsenal Square. The accessible entrance is on the left hand side of the building, facing the square (one of those things you don’t know until you have your accessible route map).

At the visitors center, be sure to pick up your Accessible Route map and get any necessary information. If the office isn’t staffed, you can still grab a guide from behind the desk. They also have Junior Ranger books available.

This is a great place to watch the informational film on the town, before exploring on your own.

Visiting the Lower Town Historic District

The heart of the town is filled with plenty of museums, restaurants, and shops to keep visitors entertained. Unfortunately, only about half of these are wheelchair accessible (that’s why you’ll want your accessibility map, first). As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Our favorite accessible stops were the Meriwether and Lewis exhibit and the bookstore. The bookstore also has passport stamps if you’re building your collection from national parks.

The Coach House was the only fully accessible restaurant we found, though many of the ice cream shops had outdoor seating that was easy to access.

Accessible Restrooms and Amenities

If you already have your accessibility map, the accessible restrooms are easy to locate. Unfortunately, when you’re traveling with three young kids you may not be able to wait for a park ranger to help you!

The accessible restrooms are just beyond the regular restrooms. Both are on the right hand side of the street (coming from the train station lot), across from the visitor’s center.

Trails and Views

One of the highlights of a visit to Harpers Ferry is the railroad bridge, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. The path to the bridge includes a short hill with loose gravel, which may require assistance. However, once you reach the bridge, it is paved and offers a smooth ride. Unfortunately, the bridge ends in stairs, so you cannot continue past the other side.

The famous view looking down on the town where the tracks meet is from Maryland Heights. Unfortunately, that’s a steep and rocky trail. We didn’t attempt it.

The best accessible view we found was actually across the river at Harpers Ferry Brewing Company. The views from the brewery (easily accessible) are lovely, but even here the best views are down a short gravel hill. We made this our last stop in the area so we could end with some local treats and ice cold lemonade.

If you’re still looking for a trail, check out the Riverfront Trail. The River Trail offers a scenic view of the Potomac River and several historic landmarks. The trail is paved and wheelchair accessible, making it a great option for those with mobility challenges.

As you make your way down the Riverfront Trail, you’ll come across several points of interest. Take a moment to admire the historic buildings that line the trail, such as the Virginius Island complex and the St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. You’ll also get a glimpse of the old B&O Railroad bridge, a testament to the town’s rich history.

For those looking for a longer walk, the Riverfront Trail connects to the C&O Canal towpath, which stretches 184.5 miles through Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. From here, you can continue your journey along the towpath or head back to Harpers Ferry.

All the rest

If you stick to the street and the accessible trails, Harpers Ferry has enough accessibility to make it worth a visit. You can discover park programs and other ways to explore deeper on the National Park website. lots to do in the area here. You can find accessibility information for the park, here.

I’d love to hear from your experiences! Is there anything you would add?

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