Winter adventure abounds
in Western Maryland
State parks add allure to seasonal experience
BALTIMORE (Jan. 11) – Dipping temperatures and snowy precipitation may tempt you to stay indoors. Resist that urge, says the Maryland Office of Tourism, and embrace the season with a trip to the state's winter wonderland – Western Maryland.
The area around Deep Creek Lake (Maryland's largest fresh water lake with 65 miles of shoreline) in Garrett County is a focal point of winter recreation in this region. You can find just about any kind of seasonal outdoor activity here. The county, after all, gets nearly twice as much snow as Fairbanks, Alaska.
"Many refer to this part of our state as Mountain Maryland," says Gov. Martin O'Malley. "Its magnificent landscape at high altitudes is replete with amazing vistas and rugged terrain where you can escape to a snow-filled adventure."
"You'll discover a number of forests and state parks in this area that afford excellent opportunities for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, sledding and snowboarding," says Margot Amelia, executive director of the state's tourism office. "And, Wisp Resort is another great option for a total winter-getaway experience."
Now celebrating 55 years in business as a four-season resort, Wisp offers a full range of winter recreation. A new attraction is the Mountain Coaster, which Wisp calls "a gravitational hybrid of an Alpine Slide and a roller coaster."
"Winter brings a substantial surge to the county's tourism industry," says Sarah Duck, director of marketing for the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. "Our visitors come 'to escape the ordinary. 'Once they experience winter at Deep Creek Lake, they're likely to arrange return visits."
Here are nine outdoor options for enjoying the winter in and around Deep Creek Lake:
Mid-week promotions at Wisp – This month, Wisp Resort offers discounted prices for ski-lift tickets, equipment rentals, snow tubing, ice skating and lodging.
Garrett County Ice Fishing Contest – Deep Creek Outfitters Hardware and Bait House (McHenry) and the county's Chamber of Commerce co-sponsor this yearly event, which runs from mid-January until the lake thaws. Weekly winners awarded prizes.
Dogsledding – Husky Power Dogsledding Home Kennels (Accident) presents an introduction to dogsledding, Jan. 13. Then, "learn to mush" on one of the company's dogsledding adventures.
Deep Creek Lake snowshoeing – All Earth Eco Tours arranges two-hour tours of Swallow Falls State Park and other areas – all within 20 minutes of the lake. The company also offers cross-country skiing.
Ladies Snowboard Camp – Women snowboard instructors offer classes at Wisp for everyone from first-timers to advanced riders. Next camp runs Feb. 1-3, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Fee includes a three-day lift ticket and equipment rental.
Deep Creek Lake State Park – This 1,800-acre park, on the east side of the lake, has six miles of snowmobile trails and opportunities for cross-country skiing. The Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center, a venue of exhibits showcasing the environment, is open weekends during the winter.
Herrington Manor State Park – Located in Garrett State Forest (four miles northwest of Oakland), the park has 10 miles of trails for cross-country skiing and a 5.5-mile trail that connects with Swallow Falls State Park. Cabins available year-round.
New Germany State Park – With ski trails for all levels of expertise, this park is a popular destination for winter weekends. It's located in Savage River State Forest, about four miles south of Grantsville. The park has 11 cabins.
Swallow Falls State Park – Known for spectacular scenery, the park has a 53-ft. waterfall (Muddy Creek Falls) and the Youghiogheny River flowing along its borders. Bring a camera to this photogenic destination. It's six miles north of Oakland.
In December, the state's tourism office highlighted Maryland Main Streets. Previous monthly themes have focused on: Maryland's colonial heritage; outdoor adventure; lighthouses; buying local; girls' getaways; prominent gardens; bed and breakfasts; Chesapeake Bay art; and hiking and biking trails.
To receive free Maryland travel information - Destination Maryland, Maryland Calendar of Events and a state highway map - by mail, call 800-719-5900. More information is available on the tourism office's web site, VisitMaryland.org.
About Maryland tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Recently reported visitor data shows that the state welcomed more than 29 million visitors in 2009. Those visitors spent nearly $13.7 billion on travel-related expenses – generating close to $1.6 billion in state and local taxes and providing 134,000 jobs to Maryland residents.