Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County are a destination for thousands of people every year. So what draws so many people to our area? Some of the most known and noticeable attractions are Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort. Truly destinations in their own right, seasonal enthusiasts flock to the lake and the slopes during their respective seasons. Aside from the obvious, though, our area has several other attractions that make us unique!
Garrett County is also home to a mountaintop, man-made whitewater rafting course. The Adventure Sports Center Institute, ASCI for short, operates their whitewater course May-October, offering different levels of rapids depending on the group! ASCI hosted the Deep Creek 2014 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championship, putting Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County on the national stage. ASCI is located at the very top of Marsh Mountain & Wisp Resort.
Our area is home to several state parks, with a brand new park designated in 2017 and another park coming in the near future. Swallow Falls State Park is home to Muddy Creek Falls, the highest free-falling waterfall in Maryland. This roaring wonder is a favorite for both locals and visitors. During certain times, you can even venture out onto the rocks above the falls for a truly unforgettable view and feeling. The park offers trails to several other smaller falls and an astounding forest of rock and evergreens. Deep Creek Lake State Park is also one of our area's favorite attractions, offering miles of trails, a sandy public beach, secure swimming area, and a trail to the Thayerville Firetower, which overlooks Deep Creek Lake.
Garrett County is also home to Maryland’s Highest Point. Backbone Mountain peaks in Garrett County at 3,331 ft above sea level. This unbelievable view is surprisingly only a short hike from the road in West Virginia. Hikers follow a marked trail and cross into Maryland towards the peak. The monument at the peak marks the exact spot of Hoye's Crest, and the trail has the sign-in book, allowing you to add your name and story to the list of all those before you!
A local staple, the Garrett County Agricultural Fair has recently become a favorite for tourists. The week-long event is held at the Garrett County Fairgrounds, located right in the heart of Deep Creek Lake. The fair includes carnival attractions and local livestock, as well as arts and crafts displays. Nightly events range from tractor pulls to the crowd favorites, the mud-bog, and the demolition derby. One of the best parts, though, is the food. The home stands generally support local organizations and school sports teams, offering up delicious food for a good cause. The Garrett County Fair is generally the first week in August. Other big events that keep everyone coming back are the annual Autumn Glory Festival, the Fire on the Mountain fireworks display, and the Deep Creek Dunk.
If you’re looking for a rain or shine kind of activity, The Discovery Center is a must-see for families and nature enthusiasts. Located beside the Deep Creek Lake State Park, The Discovery Center offers information about both the natural environment and several of the animals that live there. Their aviary houses several wild birds and owls who have been injured and cannot survive in the wild. With several hands-on exhibits, the Discovery Center is able to pass on knowledge about the area and environment in an interesting and memorable way. They often hold weekly, interactive events, like feeding the critters, projects, seasonal/holiday activities, too!
Another great rainy day activity is browsing through downtown Oakland’s shops and museums! With three museums located all in the same block, it’s not hard to delve back in time. See photos from the humble beginnings of Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort, what the historic train station looked like during its hay day, and pick up neat information about this incredible area throughout history. After looking back through history, take a tour of downtown Oakland’s shops and cafés to find great local food and specialty and antique shops!
Wisp Resort’s Mountain Coaster is a favorite attraction for many visitors, as it’s only one of 20 in the USA! This self-controlled bobsled/roller coaster hybrid offers an incredibly unique experience for riders. Open year-round, thrill-seekers ascend 1200 ft up the mountain and then zoom 2300 ft down the track around sharp corners and into quick loops! Cars are made for single adults or an adult/child combination (height requirements apply to be both passenger and driver).
Garrett County is proud to have a recently constructed the Community Aquatic and Recreation Complex (CARC)! Offering a full-size competition pool and warm water therapy pool, plus all of the features of a top-class gym and fitness classes, the CARC is a welcomed addition to the Deep Creek Lake area. The CARC offers weekly 'open swim' times for non-members and day passes for those visiting for shorter amounts of time.
So while the obvious attractions of Wisp Resort and Deep Creek Lake are known to many, take time to explore some of our other unique features!