Seven state parks, two state forests, and a lot of water

Roland Leiser

Garrett County, Md., home of seven state parks, two state forests, and Deep Creek Lake, welcomes visitors this spring and summer with a full plate of outdoor recreation and attractions.

The list of activities is nearly endless in this recreation-rich land that attracts some 1.2 million visitors each year. In warm weather, enjoy boating, waterskiing, and fishing on Deep Creek Lake and cycling, hiking, and camping along its 65 miles of shoreline. Golfers tee off on courses in the city of Oakland and at Wisp Resort, next to Deep Creek Lake.

Within this largely rural area are three museums.

Oakland’s Historical Museum has nine rooms of exhibits relating to the county’s relationship with the B&O Railroad, the glamorous Deer Park and Oakland hotels, and other facets of Garrett County history.

The Transportation Museum in Oakland holds two floors of carriages, sleighs, and automobiles, as well as exhibits on Deep Creek Lake and the county’s four state parks.

Grantsville’s Community Museum gives a glimpse into Western Maryland’s past through photos and artifacts. The Grantsville museum is open Fridays and Saturdays from May to October.

Named for a president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the state’s most western and largest county is 180 miles from Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, or about a four-hour drive. A restored B&O train station in Oakland honors this railroad heritage, and today serves as a museum and gift shop.

Garrett County boasts of more public land, including New Germany State Park, Herrington Manor State Park, and Savage River State Park, than any other Maryland county.

To keep the youngsters entertained, head to the Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center or to Funland in McHenry for indoor and outdoor amusements.

Overnight stays? No problem. Cabins, bed-and-breakfasts, lodges, and chain hotels are available in all price ranges either lakeside, in the parks, or in the quaint small towns.

For on-mountain lodging, the Wisp Resort Hotel & Conference Center offers 69 rooms and 100 two-room suites.

Head to the MoonShadow Café in the town of Accident on Wednesdays to listen to bluegrass music or bring your own instruments to play informally with a band. Blues, rock, folk, and soul are featured on other nights.

A tour for wine and beer tasting begins on Saturday afternoons from Deep Creek Beverage in McHenry, with visits to three venues. The FireFly Farms Creamery, also in McHenry, demonstrates how they make goat cheese.

Insider tip: Wisp will hold the line on all rates for its warm-weather activities, including play at its two 18-hole golf courses, Lodestar and Fantasy Valley, located on the top of the mountain and at the base, respectively.

Wisp offers three canopy tours with zip lines, mountain biking, and the Mountain Coaster, on which you descend 3,500 feet in two-passenger cars with self-braking systems. Tickets are required. The Adventure Sports Center International, a manmade whitewater course for rafts and kayaks, is also located at the mountain park.

Learn more:

Garrett Co. Tourism:

Wisp Resort: 

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