Zip through the trees at Harpers Ferry

Posted By Katie on Aug 19, 2013

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Harpers Ferry zip lineOur family had four weeks before school started with no plans.  I wanted to make sure we did more than just sit around and play video games, so we made a list of active, outdoor activities we wanted to enjoy.  The highlight of our month was a Harpers Ferry zip line excursion with Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour.

The Harpers Ferry zip line is an adrenaline-boosting activity in a beautiful setting.  On your canopy tour, you will zip through trees on eight different zip lines, climb several 25-foot ladders while attached to a secure pulley system, cross two exciting bridges, and finally rappel down a 25-foot pole to land safely on the ground.  Shaded by beautiful trees with gorgeous views of the Potomac river, this outing will appeal to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.  The Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour is run through River Riders, who offer many types of excursions including white water rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, zip lining, and more.

Harpers Ferry zip line

Beautiful scenery is the backdrop to the Harpers Ferry zip line.

If you were to spend half a day doing the Harpers Ferry zip line, here is what you should expect.


Make a reservation before you come.  The Harpers Ferry zip line tours are led by two guides for a group of up to 8 guests.  To make sure a guide is available for your group, you need a reservation.

The time you reserve is the time your canopy tour will actually begin.  You should arrive one hour before your tour begins to complete paperwork, get your harness on, and take a shuttle to the zip lines.  Plan to spend about three hours on the canopy tour.

Wear closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing, and bring a copy of your reservation.

Harpers Ferry zip line

Everyone is tethered in to cross the plank bridge.

Arrival at River Riders

All of River Riders guests meet at the same location to check in and then take shuttles or buses to their different activities.  For the canopy tour, the only thing you need to bring with you is your wallet if you have not prepaid and a small camera.  I left my snacks, water bottles, sunglasses and hat in the car.  We applied sunscreen and bug repellant before we left the parking lot.  You will be zipping through the trees and won’t be able to carry anything extra.  There are lockers available for $3 if you have items you do not want to leave in your car.

We arrived an hour early for our tour like our reservation suggested and were glad we did.  On a Saturday in August, the lines were incredibly long to check in, but most people were heading to the river for tubing and rafting.  The Harpers Ferry zip line was busy all day, but crowds never slowed us down after we got through the check in and on our way.

Harpers Ferry zip line

The line at River Riders on a Saturday afternoon in August was long.

There were so many people in line we had a hard time finding the sign to tell us which line to get in, but there were friendly staff members around who pointed us in the right direction.

Experience the Harpers Ferry zip line

I brought my husband and three oldest children with me.  After checking in, we suited up in our harnesses and hard hats and met our guides.  Our guides cracked jokes, told stories, and made sure we were comfortable all afternoon. The guides carried a backpack to store sunglasses or other small items for guests while zip lining.  They happily carried one woman’s iPhone and took pictures for her.  The guides made sure we got enough water to drink along the way.

My seven-year-old son was excited to zip line until moments before we hooked him up to the first line.  He suddenly got incredibly nervous and the guides were quick to reassure him he could go tandem with his dad and could take his time getting comfortable.  As soon as he went once and realized his harness would hold him up, he begged to be first on every line and loved every minute of the day.

Harpers Ferry zip line

Flying through the trees on the Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour.

The first few zip lines are slower and shorter to help you get used to the experience of zip lining.  Even knowing that my harness was going to catch me, I was nervous as I stood at the top of the platform and jumped and had to talk myself into it the first few times.  By the end, my husband and two daughters were leaping off the platform for extra speed.

My son was small enough that he had to ride tandem for 5 of the 8 lines.  He rode with his sisters or his dad, and my daughters enjoyed riding with him because the extra weight made both of them travel faster.

Harpers Ferry zip line

My daughter and son setting up to ride tandem on the Harpers Ferry zip line.

I have zip lined before, but the Harpers Ferry zip lines were faster and more thrilling than the lines I have ridden in the past.  If your family is looking for a thrilling outdoor adventure, then the Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour would be perfect for you.

Harpers Ferry zip line

Crossing the net bridge.

While you are in Harpers Ferry, be sure to check out the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park as well.

Good to Know

Location:  River Riders, 408 Alstadts Hill Rd, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.  One hour 15 minutes from Washington D.C.

Cost:  Cost varies based on day of the week and season.  Plan on $80-100 per person and check here for rate details.

Who can go?  Guests at the Harpers Ferry zip line must be between 40-250 pounds.  They recommend the zip line for ages 5 and above.

How long?  Plan on at least four hours from start to finish.

When to go?  Open year-round by reservation. This would be an amazing experience in the fall when the leaves are changing.

Amenities:  Portable toilets outside.  One restroom and changing rooms inside.  Small cafe that serves BBQ fare and drinks.  Lockers available for $3.

Safety:  Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour was very serious about safety.  The entire time you are in the trees, you will be attached to a safety line.  The guides kept a close eye on my adventurous son and made sure he had a great time and did it safely.

Harpers Ferry zip line

Safety was a priority throughout the tour. We were securely tethered during the entire tour.

Disclosure:  Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour hosted our family at no charge so that we could review it for other families.  All the opinions expressed here are my own.
Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.


  1. Man! I wish I lived closer. I would totally do that.

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  2. Great entry! I am calling today to see if we can head out there with cousins coming into town later this week, it sounds like so much fun!!

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    • I’m so glad, Sara. I’m sure your kids will love it as much as we did!

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