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Nina Beitzel | Railey Realty

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Deep Creek Lake


The cool, sapphire blue water, the sunshine that seeps into your soul; Deep Creek Lake is truly more of an experience than a destination. Here you’ll find unmatched splendor and beauty, nestled in the quiet mountains of Western Maryland.

Built in 1925, Deep Creek Lake has been a beloved place to both live and play.

Deep Creek Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Maryland, covering 3,900 ac with 65+ miles of shoreline. A hydroelectric dam controls the lake, and during the off-season, water is drained from the lake to supply several tributaries used for top-class white water rapids. The lake and the buffer strip surrounding the water are owned by the State of Maryland and are protected by several environmental laws. These restrictions help protect the beauty of Deep Creek Lake while keeping it a safe place to play and swim.

Deep Creek Lake life is always exciting, especially during the summer months. Enjoy the rush of zipping through the water on a wakeboard or slow down and float through the afternoon; it’s up to you! With several marinas to choose from, boats of all makes and styles can be rented, as well as personal watercrafts. The lake has several no wake coves, offering smoother water for stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers, and swimmers! The southern end of the lake is famous for its sailing clubs, with races happening all summer long. Deep Creek Lake State Park offers a sandy beach and shallow swim area in a quiet cove, perfect for a relaxing afternoon. During the winter months, the lake freezes solid, offering an entirely different platform for winter fun. Ice-fishers set up tents all over the lake, biding their time for that perfect catch. The frozen lake is also suitable for snowmobiles! Braving the cold or soaking up the sun, there’s definitely a season for both.

For anglers and fishing enthusiasts, Deep Creek Lake offers peaceful waters and almost year-round fishing. The lake is stocked with pike, trout, carp, and more, making it prime for open water and ice fishing! A fishing license is required, and they can be picked up at a few select places around the lake.

Whether you’re coming to stay or play, Deep Creek Lake offers endless beauty and recreation, no matter the season! 

Details and Facts

  • Size The lake has approximately 3,900 acres of surface area, measures 12 miles in length, and has 65 miles of shoreline
  • Avg Summer Lake Surface Temperature 73 F
  • Ice Cover in Mid Winter 18 inches approx.
  • Maximum Depth 75 feet
  • Avg Depth 25 feet
  • Elevation 2,462 feet above sea level
  • Avg Outside High Summer Temperature High 70's to low 80's
  • Avg Yearly Snowfall 85.7 inches
  • Avg Yearly Precipitation 47.6 inches
  • Location Lies west of the Eastern Continental Divide, meaning that the lake's water eventually drains into the Gulf of Mexico through the Mississippi River basin
  • Number of Homes About 2,500 in the Deep Creek Lake watershed
  • Recreation/Activities Boating, swimming, fishing (year-round), water-skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, sailing

Local Traditions 

  • Watching the 4th of July fireworks by boat in McHenry cove
  • Celebrating the end of the summer season at the Honi-Honi bar on Labor Day Monday
  • Enjoying a hearty breakfast on Saturday mornings at Little Sandy's restaurant
  • Water-skiing at sunrise with glass-calm water in Cherry Creek Cove before going by boat to Traders Coffee House
  • Taking the kids to Smiley's Fun Zone for go-cart racing and mini golf
  • Snowmobiling around the lake before stopping for refreshments at JG's Pub on a Friday night
  • Fishing at "Stump Point" near the dam of the lake at sunrise

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Frequently Asked Questions

How big is Deep Creek Lake and what is the lake really like? 

The lake is approximately 12 miles long with 65 miles of shoreline. The deepest point is approximately 75 feet, with an average depth of 25 feet. Surface temperatures generally top out in the low 70's in the summer.

Who actually owns and manages Deep Creek Lake? 

The state of Maryland actually owns the lake bed, the water, and the Buffer Strip of land around the entire lake. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages and patrols the lake. Brookfield Power owns the dam and hydro-electric facility. The Maryland Department of Environment regulates how much water Brookfield Power can release from the lake -ensuring proper lake levels throughout the boating season.

What are the boating restrictions on Deep Creek Lake?
Boating restrictions are numerous but the main ones are as follows:

  • No boats longer than 26 feet are permitted (excluding pontoons)
  • No speed restrictions except in designated areas
  • No Personal Water Craft (PVC's) or Jet Skis are permitted on the lake between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays between the 4th of July and Labor Day weekend.
  • Anyone born after 1972 must complete a ½ day Boater Safety Course to be eligible to operate any type of watercraft. 

How many houses are around Deep Creek Lake? 

While the number of houses fluctuates, there are approximately 1,800 homes around the 65 miles of shoreline and another 700 homes with access to the lake and in the general watershed vicinity.  In all, there are currently 6,574 properties in tax district 18, also known as the Deep Creek Lake District.

What are the temperatures and climate really like there?

Since Garrett County and Deep Creek Lake are at an elevation between 2,400-3,000 feet above sea level, the outside air temperature is usually 5-10 degrees cooler than the surrounding metropolitan areas. If it's 90 in Baltimore - it usually is in the low 80's here. This allows people to escape the heat and humidity of the city in the summer. In the winter this results in more snow with an annual average of approximately 90 inches, since they started keeping records. Some winters result in more snow than others.  In fact, two of the past three winters have produced more than 200 inches of snow!

What activities are available? 

The easier question to answer would be "what isn't there to do?" The activities available in Garrett County and Deep Creek are numerous - much more than other resort areas in the east. Activities include, but are not limited to, the following - Alpine (Downhill) Skiing, ATV (Four Wheeler) Riding, Backpacking, Biking, Bird Watching, Boating, Camping, Canoeing, Cross County Skiing, Dogsledding, Fishing/Ice Fishing, Fly Fishing, Kayaking, Golf, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Hunting, Ice Climbing, Mountain Biking, Orienteering, Rappelling, Rock Climbing, Rollerblading, Sailing, Scuba Diving, Sledding & Tubing, Snowboarding, Snowmobiling, Snowshoeing, Skateboarding, Swimming, Tennis, Wakeboarding, Water-skiing, Whitewater Rafting, and Windsurfing.

What are the restaurants and nightlife like? 

There are nearly 50 restaurants in the Deep Creek Lake area, ranging from franchises to fine cuisine to good old fashioned family restaurants. The nightlife revolves around the various bars, taverns, and night clubs around the lake. If you are looking for more family-friendly things to do, the area boasts a state-of-the-art eight-screen movie theatre in addition to a few family arcades with go-karts, mini-golf, and laser tag.

Are there any arts and cultural activities? 

There's plenty of that stuff, too. Not only does the Garrett Lakes Arts Festival run throughout the summer, but the town of Oakland has the weekly Little Yough Summer Music Festival that's held every Friday. And Our Town Theatre puts on various plays and productions throughout the year as well.

I really like the creature comforts of my primary residence: what services are available to me? 

Don't worry, your cell phone will work up here in the mountains. Other than a few dead spots in the county, you should be able to get good signals wherever you are. Also, while not available everywhere yet, many communities and homes now have access to high-speed internet - whether it's a DSL line or a cable modem.

What plans are in the works for improvements to the Wisp Ski Resort and additional public sewer service around the lake? 

Most of the improvements are planned to take place at Wisp Ski Resort on the northern end of Deep Creek Lake. The Wisp Ski Resort continues to add new trails, ski-able terrain, and higher capacity chair lifts. This has resulted in less wait time and overall better skiing conditions. In addition, atop Marsh Mountain and adjacent to the Wisp Ski Resort will be the eventual construction of the new Adventure Sports Center. This facility will better organize and allow more people to participate in various adventure sports - like mountain bike riding and cross-country skiing. As for public sewer, the officials of Garrett County have set a goal to have the entire Deep Creek Lake watershed on public sewer by the year 2030. While the current system is currently at full capacity, the expansion is in the early planning stages.

Is Deep Creek Lake turning into Ocean City? 

No.  Even though Deep Creek Lake has grown over the years, it is still a peaceful mountain getaway. With the current zoning regulations and a scarcity of available commercial property, it's hard to ever imagine Deep Creek Lake turning into a highly commercialized resort.