Deep Creek Lake

I live west of Philadelphia. My family enjoys almost all outdoors activities-fishing, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. Because of where we live, we’ve heard about Deep Creek Lake from many friends and acquaintances over the years.

So, yeah. It was kind of a bucket list item for me. Not in a “well if I don’t ever get there I will not feel personally fulfilled” but more of a “Yeah, I’d like to visit there some day” kinda way. Get it?

deep creek lake panoramic view
The view from the deck of our rental.

When things started to open back up and people were planning summer vacations, we started planning too. We’re normally NJ or Delaware beach people, but those spots filled up quickly. By March or April, there was nothing affordable left. So, seemed like a good time to check out other spots.

Deep Creek Lake area is about 4 hours west of me. It is located in very western Maryland, right on the West Virginia border. Per most of the websites we viewed online, the majority of the visitors come from Maryland, Virginia and the Pittsburgh area.

Deep Creek Lake Rental

A good vacation starts out with great lodging, right? So from the start of it all, we were doomed.

Our rental was through Taylor Made Rentals. I could go on for days about how terrible and overpriced this rental was. If you Google them, and look at the Google reviews, you’ll find mine which includes pictures.

Some of the things we encountered:

  • Gum stuck to the kitchen floor
  • Entire house was filthy and hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned in YEARS
  • dirty, used bandaid on the floor in TWO bathrooms
  • coffee maker too dirty to even touch

Needless to say, our rental was a huge disappointment. We tried to stay positive. I mean, people come to DCL to do the outdoor activities, right? We weren’t going to be indoors much anyway.

Avoid Deep Creek Lake Activities

The activities at DCL were extremely disappointing.

Let’s start with the boating, because that’s why people go there–because there’s a lake.

I grew up around water and with boats. My dad always owned a power boat or fishing boat for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until he got older and unable to really do it himself, that he sold his Boston Whaler.

I really cannot believe that there are not frequent boating accidents and deaths on Deep Creek Lake. There is zero boating etiquette out there. The power boaters have zero consideration for anyone. They’ve obviously never heard of the concept of low/no wake. They blow past docks full of boats, rafts full of kids and groups of kayakers. I could not believe how much atrocious and unsafe boating activity I witness from our deck and our dock.

For kayaking and paddleboarding, we could only really go out in the early morning or sometimes in the evening. From 9 or 10 am until dinner time, the lake is just filled with rude and inconsiderate boaters.

That meant that for us, the main attraction–the lake–was not accessible to us except in the morning. Once we were done with a morning paddle, that was it. Or risk death.

Deep Creek Outdoors Activities

With the lake off our agenda, we turned to other activities in the town. We explored:

  • High Ropes Course
  • Jet Ski Rentals
  • Hiking at nearby state park
  • Miniature Golf
  • Shopping
  • Arcade
  • Restaurants

Let me dig into each one.

Monkey Business High Ropes-This was one of the highlights. The staff there was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. It wasn’t overly crowded. We enjoyed this activity even though this was not something my disabled son could do and I’m afraid of heights and chickened out.

Jet Ski Rentals-We enjoyed this. The downside is that jet skis are banned from the lake during certain hours. To make way for, you guessed it, rude boaters.

parking lot at md state park
State Park Parking Lot-Accessible spot being used for storage.

Hiking-Huge disappointment. Pretty trail, lovely waterfalls. But it is a state park and all the accessible parking spots were inaccessible.

parking lot at maryland state park
Accessible parking space had porta potties.

Miniature Golf-We went to both courses there. One is ‘better’ than the other, but it’s still not accessible. Furthermore, I sent my 12-year-old in to ask about accessibility, and the guy said “I don’t know, you’ll have to go look.” (I just want to add in here: It may seem obnoxious to let one boy play, when I should have just taken my money and went elsewhere. K was fine with it at the time and we did have fun, and he got to play a few days later. One photo doesn’t tell the whole story.)

I was able to maneuver Kevin around the second mini golf course, but I think that most adults who are self-propelled would not be able to. I had to push him up and down several curbs.

inaccessible mini golf
One brother plays mini golf while the other watches because it’s inaccessible.

Shopping-There are a few gift shops that offered very limited assortments of things. Nothing worth writing home about. Or purchasing. We purchased our obligatory t-shirts and called it a day. Most stores did not have accessible parking.

no hc parking
They really had the nerve to take the first parking space and paint it like this.

Arcade-One arcade was accessible to my son and one was not. The one he could use did not have accessible parking.

Deep Creek Restaurants-The food there is pedestrian. Nothing worth writing home about. The pizza that everyone raves about is fine, but very expensive. Maybe good pizza is a novelty if you’re from Virginia or Pittsburgh. What I can find here around Philly is better.

There are two more expensive restaurants in town, neither was spectacular. Higher prices does not mean more variety or better quality. Service was absolutely terrible everywhere we went. The one bright spot was The Greene Turtle. That’s a restaurant that we visit in Rehoboth and Newark. The food was served fast, hot and good quality. But again, I can (and do) go to this restaurant at home.

There’s an ice cream shop that everyone told us we had to try. Their ads boast 90 flavors or something like that. They did not have chocolate or mint chocolate chip. One time we went, the ice cream had a fly in it. I told the girl. She scooped it out with a spoon and left the leg behind. She did not remove the tub of ice cream from the cooler.

fly in ice cream

Donuts-There’s a place there that has the same business model as Duck Donuts, but it’s not Duck Donuts. It’s also not as good as Duck Donuts. And, they only have 1 person making the donuts at a time, creating incredibly long wait times. And yes, there were 3-4 people behind the counter, but only one working to make donuts. Terrible, terrible service. And the donuts are just meh. All the glaze tastes the same–sickeningly sweet. Chocolate doesn’t taste chocolatey and so on.

Deep Creek Lake-Lack of Accessibility

I was astounded at how inaccessible everything is there. I only saw accessible parking at a couple of places. No parking spaces?? What is that? You can’t even claim cost. Providing a parking space costs nothing.

The lake itself also has very high cliffs and ledges at some spots. I understand that–sometimes nature just doesn’t allow for a ramp.

But the business owners in this town have made little effort in welcoming people with disabilities and making their attractions and services accessible. And for those reasons…I’m out. Won’t ever go back.

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