For nearly a century, Deep Creek Lake has been calling visitors to escape from the sweltering city heat to the cool mountains of western Maryland. It is here where travelers will find Deep Creek Lake State Park, home to the largest freshwater lake in the state. Like all lakes in Maryland, Deep Creek Lake is human-made; it was built in 1925, as a project by the Youghiogheny Hydroelectric Company. Today, it’s hard to believe that the homes, vacation rentals, and small resort communities didn’t organically crop up along these 65 miles of mostly tree-lined shore.
Stop first at Deep Creek Lake State Park’s Discovery Center. The center offers aquariums filled with live fish and reptiles native to the area, plus an activity room for kids. The back deck offers an unobtrusive overlook of just a small portion of the lake and the park.
The lake is the center of the universe here, including swimming from the sandy beach at the park. Boating is more than a pastime in Deep Creek Lake—it’s a way of life, with many of the lakeside rentals, homes, and even restaurants equipped with a small boat slip or dock.
Water skiing, wakeboarding, paddleboarding, and tubing are popular sports for visitors. Personal watercraft are allowed for water lovers with a need for speed.
The lake is a fisher’s dream, with the chance to reel in stocked trout, walleye, bass, and yellow perch. Kayaking is another way to slow down and enjoy the wildlife, spotting waterfowl or, if you’re lucky, a black bear, the unofficial local mascot, onshore. If you have a bigger party you’d like to take onto the water, pontoons are allowed, too.
Vacationers who don’t have water sports equipment, or those who don’t want to haul it around, can rent just about anything from the many businesses around the lake for a day or an entire week. During peak season, it’s best to put in a reservation.
One must-do experience: whitewater rafting at Adventure Sports Center International at Wisp Resort. It’s the only human-made, recirculating whitewater course in the country, and top athletes come here to train on the course. First-timers not only have all the safety equipment supplied, but the 1-mile course comes with an experienced guide.
MoonShadow Restaurant and Bar, where the mantra is “Eat real food,” is the place locals hang out and tell their friends about. The spacious bar and collection of mismatched tables and chairs in the expansive dining room immediately lend a laid-back vibe. A stage oversees the customers for live music. A small outdoor seating area, complete with heaters, is available for those chilly nights that can still crop up this time of year. The menu has a little bit of everything, from small plates, salads, sandwiches, and pizza to entrées such as short ribs with soba noodles. There are options for those who are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. The bar offers craft beers as well as wine and spirits.
Ella’s Enchanted Treehouses are located just outside of Deep Creek Lake in Bittinger. Ella’s offers a memorable and unexpected housing experience: fully furnished perches in the sky, with places to hike, bike, and more. In addition to being close to Deep Creek, it’s also next to Savage River State Forest, which offers even more for those who want to experience the outdoors. Resting in the treetops and listening to the birds is a relaxing way to unwind.