The far western tip of Maryland packs more outdoors options into one single county (Garrett) than any other in the state. Grab your gear and start at the top with rafting on the Youghiogheny (YOCK-uh-ganey) River, the hallowed birthplace of commercial raiting in the U.S. From Sang Run to Friendsville, the Upper Yough boasts a heart-pounding succession of 19 Class IV and V rapids in a 10-mile stretch, with rightfully intimidating names like Bastard, Lost and Found, and Meat Cleaver. You can breathe again when you hit the milder, but no less beautiful, Middle Yough, running from Confluence to Ohiopyle, whose Class I and II rapids are perfect for beginners and families. The Lower Yough from Ohiopyle to Bruner Run, is the busiest section of white water east of the Mississippi, with Class III and IV rapids that are challenging without becoming overwhelming.
More serene waters beckon at the 3,900-acre Deep Creek Lake, Maryland’s largest freshwater lake, with 65 miles of shoreline to explore. Vacationers flock here in the summer and enjoy the chance to revel in the lake community’s old-time charm. Boating, naturally, is the most popular activity at this time of year, and it’s also the fastest and easiest way to get around: You can go shopping, to the movies, and even to church by boat. Miking, camping, fishing, and mountain biking are excellent here as well. Seven state forests and parks also fill Garrett County, including Savage River State Forest, Maryland’s largest, and Swallow Falls Stale Park, named for the state’s highest free-falling waterfall.
Rockies veterans might laugh at Maryland’s only ski hill, the 700-foot-high Wisp Resort, but it proudly offers 32 slopes, some supplying handsome views of nearby Deep Creek Lake. Backbone Ski Farm, a working 530-acre organic farm in Oakland, at the foot of Backbone Mountain, offers 15 kilometers of maintained Nordic ski trails. Spend the day immersed in deep, pristine forests. Then collapse at the cozy Arts-and-Crafts Lake Pointe Inn on a private slip of Deep Creek Lake’s shoreline. All of the comfy guestrooms have views either of the lake or of nearby Wisp Resort.