Life in the mountains of Garrett County in Maryland brings beautiful highs for each season, and winter is no exception, with more than 100 inches of snow falling on the area annually.
Winter is a favorite season among locals and visitors, alike.
The home ski resort, Wisp Resort, located at Deep Creek Lake, offers more than beautiful trails and has advanced snowmaking technology, providing a perfect blend of natural and man-made snow.
Generally open for winter activities the first week of December through the end of March, Wisp offers plenty of action and adventure for all ages and skill levels. Covering 172 acres, the resort offers more than 35 slopes and seven lifts. Wisp hosts several competitions throughout the year. From tricks in the terrain park to slalom skiing, there are events almost every month, all winter long.
Wisp offers a wide variety of terrain to appease all levels of skiers in an almost even breakdown of their skiing terrain ― 35 percent beginner, 38 percent intermediate, and 27 percent expert. With only a few exceptions, all of the terrain is well lit and excellent for night skiing, too. Wisp staffs an experienced snowmaking and grooming team, which allows them to maintain the slopes and keep them in their best condition.
Wisp has one of the world's most energy-efficient snowmaking systems with computerized weather and pumping stations that are world-renowned.
The resort offers much more than just downhill skiing and snowboarding, though. The adventure park features downhill tubing with two carpets bringing tubers up the hill. The adventure park also has an ice rink and the year-round Mountain Coaster. On the other side of the resort is cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Once the landscape changes into winter wonderland mode, Deep Creek Lake is ready to play. The lake freezes solid, creating a new kind of life on the water. Ice fisherman can be seen almost all winter in their huts, carving holes in the ice trying to lure a big one. When the lake freezes over and the ice is thick enough and snow-covered, skiers take advantage of the smooth, flat surface of the lake. Those without direct access to the lake can access it at the boat launch or Deep Creek Lake State Park.
The frozen lake is also suitable for snowmobiles. You can always walk on the ice, too, but visitors should exercise care. Thin ice is very dangerous, so visitors should not go on the ice without first knowing if it’s safe. The ice is generally thinner towards roads, the shore, and near bridges.
Cross-country skiing is also very popular in the area. Most walking paths are suitable for cross-country skiing once the ground is snow-covered. Herrington Manor Park even grooms its trails.
Garrett County is home to seven state parks, many of which offer trails perfect for cross-country skiing. Visitors can enjoy moderate to challenging skiing at these parks, and they can also rent all their equipment there, too.
While snow creates a beautiful scene, it can also keep visitors inside. Unlike nearby cities, when a snowstorm approaches, residents don’t grab the milk and bread. Instead, most locals choose to make a night of it. Grab a make-at-home pizza, some drinks, and a couple good movies, and prepare to get snowed in. The excellent roads crew will clear the way in no time. Winter is also a great time to try some of the local restaurants. Head down to Oakland for bowling and small-town shops, or stay at the lake and browse some of the surrounding shops. The Christmas Chalet is the perfect place to explore before Christmas to pick up the perfect Deep Creek Lake gift to add to the decoration collection.
Winter is a fun time to be at Deep Creek Lake, and there are several favorite during this time. The holiday season sees the arrival of Christmas in the Village, the annual tree-lighting ceremony in Oakland, and the Festival of Trees. Each takes place in a different part of the county and offers artisan crafts and fun displays. Winterfest in Oakland is a local favorite and features live ice-carving demonstrations as well as other ice sculptures on display and horse-drawn carriage rides through town.
Probably the biggest event is the Deep Creek Dunk. Sponsored by the Maryland State Police and natural resources police, this event benefits the Maryland Special Olympics. Participants take a plunge into the icy waters of Deep Creek Lake in mid-February while spectators enjoy watching the show. The dunk brings hundreds of people together for a great cause and is an excellent way to spend an afternoon at the lake.
Lodging options are plentiful and include vacation rental homes by owner and agency, cabins and lodges, hotels and motels, and bed & breakfasts, as well as camping. See contact information for these accommodations at visitdeepcreek.com.