Fodor's Expert Review Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
At the stunning convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the town of Harpers Ferry—just over the border in West Virginia—played a key role in the events leading to the Civil War. This historical park brings to life details of the famous raid led by John Brown, a radical abolitionist. His plan—to take control of the town and commandeer weapons from the arsenal for the fight against slavery—was ultimately foiled and Brown was later tried and hanged. Still, historians cite the incident as the spark that helped ignite the conflict between North and South. The town, at the crossroads of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, has been restored to its appearance during Brown's time, and various exhibits highlight early American life and Civil War history. The breathtaking rivers, shrouded by wooded cliffs, are popular spots for rafting and tubing during the warmer months.