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Muddy Creek Falls at Swallow Falls State Park is worth the short drive and hike./Garrett County Chamber

Summer winds down and passes the baton to autumn. Vacationers who are seeking a welcome respite from the heat welcome the season, and those who want to get a jump on the season change can head to the mountains and cross the eastern continental divide and experience the region’s most beautiful season.

Until you’ve gazed upon the colorful foliage on mountains being reflected on the glassy smooth surface of Deep Creek Lake, you’ve simply not experienced the best Maryland has to offer. Rent a home or condo with a view, enjoy the outdoors, and then sit by an outdoor fire in the crisp autumn air. How can it be any better?

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A parade celebrates Autumn Glory in McHenry, Maryland./Garrett County Chamber

Check out the Autumn Glory Festival, Oct. 9-13 at Deep Creek Lake and enjoy parades, concerts, art exhibits, band competitions, antiques and crafts shows, and delicious food. And, of course, America’s best town for autumn colors with countless awards by a variety of national media. Check out their driving tours that wind through the countryside along mountain ridges and streams with quaint towns along the way. It’s simply sublime.

Want to get a jump on the season? Head to the Garrett County Fairgrounds Sept. 7 for the Deep Creek Lake Art, Beer and Wine Festival in McHenry, Md. Now in its 15th year, the festival features more than 200 wines to taste plus a wine store and pairing dinners, small batch beers, silent auction to benefit HART for Animals, live entertainment, games, great food and more.

Want a more active adventure while participating in the splendor of the season? Head to Wisp and the Adventure Sport Center International (ASCI) and go on the whitewater course. Available through mid-October (and still quite comfy in a wetsuit) you can take a raft with a guide and several friends learning about whitewater and then negotiating rapids with a spectacular view in the background. Or you can go on “real” whitewater with locally owned Precision Whitewater Rafting in nearby Friendsville, Md. Precision Whitewater is run by its founder, Roger Zbel, the legendary whitewater champion. (Tip: visit recreationnews.com and read about Precision in a prior feature). For more information, call them at 800-477-3723 or visit PrecisionRafting.com.

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Bright colors surround the tranquil Deep Creek Lake/Garrett County Chamber

Also on the mountain at Wisp, try the wild Mountain Coaster. Experience the thrill of 3,500 feet of downhill turns and dips on this coaster where you control the speed. Or check out the zip lines, scenic chair lift rides and Segway tours. They offer literally a mountain of fun options.

You can also return to nature at the local parklands. Our favorite, Swallow Falls State Park, features the 53-foot tall Muddy Creek Falls, and a stand of 300-year-old hemlock trees, the last of their kind in Maryland. The relatively short nine-mile drive from McHenry is scenic as well. There is no shortage of places to hike, bike, kayak, canoe, golf and more in the area.

To plan your getaway and enjoy the Deep Creek experience, call the tourism office at 888-387-5237 or visit the website VisitDeepCreek.com. Also, check out WispResort.com for the resort hotel and all their amenities at WispResort.com or call 800-462-9477.

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