Sleigh rides during the winter season at Deep Creek.
Sleigh rides during the winter season at Deep Creek. (Photo courtesy of Garrett County Chamber of Commerce)

Location: Garrett County, approximately 10 miles east of the West Virginia border and 20 miles south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Average property listing price: Bob Carney, manager of Deep Creek Resort and Sales at Long & Foster Real Estate in McHenry, explains that there are two different markets in the Deep Creek area. For properties in tax district 18 (also called the Deep Creek Lake district), which comprises lake-view, lakefront and lake-area homes, Carney says the average sale price is $550,000. For properties outside tax district 18, the average sale price is $246,000. 

Size and population: According to Carney, there are 5,100 homes in district 18, which spans several communities neighboring Deep Creek, including McHenry, Swanton and Oakland. Population fluctuates with the seasons, reaching a peak of about 1 million visitors in the summer months, Carney says.

The history: One of the last areas in Maryland to be settled, Deep Creek has an extensive Native American history followed by industrial ties dating back to the early 20th century. The surrounding forests were used for logging, and a small coal mine briefly supported blacksmiths here during the early 1920s. The man-made freshwater lake, which covers 3,900 acres, was completed by the early 1930s. While it was originally intended to power a small hydroelectric plant, the lake evolved into a tourist destination. 

What’s there: “Deep Creek is one of Maryland’s only four-season areas for outdoor activities,” says Carney. The winter season typically runs from Thanksgiving through mid-March, and Garrett County’s annual snowfall averages about 100 inches. Wisp Resort, a hot spot for weekend travelers, offers snowboarding, skiing, tubing and snowmobiling. 

Throughout the year, you’ll also find hikers, bikers, boaters, hunters, fishers and campers peppering the lake area. The northern tip, known as McHenry Cove, offers a business district with restaurants, shopping and lodging. 

Why Deep Creek: For Ed King, Deep Creek Lake is ingrained into his family’s history, beginning with his father, who helped construct the hydroelectric dam in 1923. As a child, King spent the summer in Deep Creek with his parents. He purchased a weekend retreat cabin here in 1965 and moved to Deep Creek permanently with his wife in 1984. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all come back to visit. 

“I’ve never had a bad day [here],” he says.