On a recent road trip for work, I had the opportunity to stay at the Rocky Gap Resort in Western Maryland. Although I had passed through this part of the country a few times before, this would be the first time I was actually spending a few days in the region. As it turned out, the time would be very well spent, as a hidden gem located along a wonderful lake and national park awaited me.
One of the most exciting aspects of this particular summer trip was the fact that I would have the opportunity to see amazing natural vistas and forests along the way. June is a great month for road trips. Trees, flowers, plants and grass are in bloom, the weather is warm, and people are out and about enjoying summer vacation. The cold of winter is nowhere in sight, and the sky is often filled with sun until late in the evening. Freedom and adventure is in the air, and those are feelings that can never be imitated or replaced.
Of course, in my younger years, I was definitely an adventure sport fanatic and adrenaline seeker. I spent the vast majority of my childhood outside riding my bicycle or trudging through the woods. In college, I hiked through the Santa Ynez Mountains countless times. Kayaking, parasailing, and jumping off buildings are still some of my favorite activities, and although I do not get to partake in them as often as in the past, any opportunity to get out onto the water or into the air is an opportunity that I relish.
It was perfect then, that my journeys brought me to a resort located right on a large body of water and near a forest thick with hiking and biking trails.
The Rocky Gap Resort is a small lodge-like hideaway that many people use to get away for the weekend. In recent years, the resort has changed ownership and acquired a gaming license from the State of Maryland, allowing it to offer slot machines and table games inside a casino area of the building. The casino area itself, however, is quite small and only contains a few rooms of games for patrons to play. In fact, unlike many resorts with casinos, it seemed as though the casino at Rocky Gap was a supplement to the property and not necessarily the main attraction.
The hotel area is also small compared to some of the bigger lodges and resorts that visitors may have experienced in places like North Carolina or Lake Tahoe. Rooms fill up quite quickly, especially during weekends and the summer months. During my stay, I had a standard room with a king bed, which served its purpose quite nicely. The rooms did feature modern televisions and wireless Internet. However, some of the room decor seemed a bit dated or worn. The Internet itself was fine for browsing the web or checking emails but would probably be quite slow if used for online gaming or uploading large files to YouTube or other websites.*
*Travel tip: If available, the rooms that face the lake or mountains have much better views than those that face the parking lot. Of course, none of the rooms have “terrible” views since Western Maryland is quite picturesque.
Of course, the state of the hotel rooms was not as important to me during this particular stay because I was hoping to spend most of my time outside anyways. For those who are interested in golf (the resort has its own golf course), kayaking, paddle boats, BBQ, canoeing, or even floating water tubes, Rocky Gap has a nice selection of toys available for rent. The waters of Lake Habeeb are very gentle, and there were many families enjoying the beach located on the nearside of the water on the days I visited. The resort also rents bikes for those who wish to take a ride through the forest or various other bike paths in the area.
The first day of my stay, I rented a kayak and floated out onto the waters of Lake Habeeb. Unfortunately, my vlogging camera is not waterproof, so I did not get any good photos of the center of the lake. However, the experience itself was quite peaceful and it was very relaxing to just sit in the middle of the water and feel the sun on my back.
The second day of my stay, I rented a bicycle and attempted to circle the lake from land. Of course, there were too many trails to attempt to see everything in one trip, but I imagine each of them are just as spectacular as the one I took. Again, there were many families with children throughout the park area, and the resort has a list of activities and selection of equipment for all ages.*
Fishing equipment and paddle pontoon boats are also available for rent, and the resort staff was more than willing to talk to me about the various places in, around, and on the lake that I should visit or see during my stay or while participating in a particular activity.
*Please note that rental availability and price of any equipment is subject to change based on season, demand, and other factors! Please contact the resort directly for availability and current pricing.
I am not a golfer and thus did not get a chance to tour the golf course. However, it seemed as though the greens were well-maintained and that there was a steady stream of players trickling along the lakeside holes throughout the weekend. For those who are interested in participating in such activities, the resort does recommend reserving a tee time in advance. Like much of the rest of the resort, however, the course and clubhouse did not seem to be stuffy when I passed through on my way to the lake.
The resort offers several dining options, from an “upscale casual” buffet (Lakeside Restaurant) to a sit-down restaurant (LB’s Place) and even a hotel cafe (A Little Munch) that serves quick bites and premade sandwiches all day and all night. There is also a casual bar (Signature’s Bar & Grill) located on the lower levels of the building. Room service is also available, although hours are more limited than at other resorts and vary by day.
The staff at Rocky Gap Resort were fantastic. Everyone always greeted me no matter where I was or what time of day or night I was out and about. The front desk was quite busy on Friday afternoon when I checked in but the staff worked efficiently to get everyone accommodated as quickly as possible. I never felt unsafe during my stay as there were valet employees and security personnel stationed outside the main hotel building at all times.
If you are someone who is looking for an adventure without having to drive far from your hotel, Rocky Gap Resort is the place for you. Although the hotel accommodations are not luxurious or filled with modern amenities, Lake Habeeb and Rocky Gap National Park are well worth the stop. “Lodge by the lake” is the perfect description for this resort, and Rocky Gap even has something for those looking to wager a few coins in the casino as well.
For me, my brief weekend stay at Rocky Gap was just the beginning of my June road trip. The mission of seeing as much nature and the outdoors as possible was off to a great start, and I could not have been more pleased with the area. Even as I grow older and get farther along into my thirties, there is still no replacement for the enthusiasm and excitement from flying through the air on a bike or casting out into the great unknown with nothing but a paddle or sail to guide you forward.
After all, why else do we travel?
One stop down. Several stops to go.