Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake is located in Maryland, United States, and is the largest inland body of water in the state. The lake is an artificially built reservoir constructed by the Youghiogheny Hydroelectric Company along Deep Creek. Currently, the lake is not owned by the company, but by the state of Maryland itself, and it is maintained by Deep Creek Lake State Park authorities (which offer public access to the lake). The lake was constructed between 1923 and 1925 in conjunction with the Deep Creek Dam, and is an earth and rock wall dam which cuts across Deep Creek. The creek itself is a tributary of the larger Youghiogheny River. 

Deep Creek Lake State Park

Deep Creek Lake
An aerial view of Deep Creek Lake during sunset in the fall season.

The lake is also part of the Deep Creek Lake State Park, which is a seven square kilometer nature reserve and recreational area enjoyed by many visitors and locals of the area. The park includes over 100 camping sites, the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center, picnic areas, 32 kilometers of hiking trails, two beaches, and a boat ramp for recreational boating, fishing, and licensed hunting.

Wildlife In The Area

Deep creek lake birds
Geese flying over the Deep Creek Lake in the morning mist. 

The natural area surrounding the lake does not receive a particularly high amount of precipitation, and as such vegetation is the type that is hardy, and can survive in hot, dry climates. Trees such as Ponderosa pine, two-needle pinyon pine, single-leaf pinyon pine, Gambel oak, scrub or Dixie live oak, are the most common in the forested areas. Fremont cottonwood, single-leaf ash, Engelmann’s spruce can also be seen in the region. Additionally, banana yucca, Mojave hedgehog cactus, Utah yucca, Greenleaf manzanita, firecracker penstemon, giant red Indian paintbrush are common in and around the lake. Despite being an artificial lake, Deep Creek Lake has a large variety of fish species.

Recreational fishing is a popular activity in the area, and species such as large and smallmouth bass, rock bass, northern pike, walleye, yellow perch, brown trout, bluegill, rainbow trout, chain pickerel, carp, black crappie, redear sunfish and shiners have all been recorded in Deep Creek Lake. There are also a number of different mammal species in the lake area.

Larger mammals include elk, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, and also black bears, which are fairly common in the state park (and can be a concern to visitors at times). Smaller mammals include marmots and badgers. The lake and park also attract a number of birds, some of which feed off the fish in the lake, and some of which can be hunted when in season and with appropriate licences. Bird species in the area include wild turkeys, chukar partridge, golden eagles, and screech owls. 

Importance Of The Deep Creek Lake

ski slopes near deep creek lake in garret county maryland
Ski slopes near Deep Creek Lake in Garret County, Maryland.

Aside from providing a beautiful recreational area for locals and visitors alike, the lake has an important role to play in sustaining the nearby towns and cities. The dam was originally constructed for hydroelectric purposes, and continues to generate significant power for the region. The nearest city to the lake is that of Oakland, Maryland, which is one of the areas which benefit from the power generated by the dam and power plant. The powerhouse has two Francis type turbines, as well as two separate generators which produce up to 18 megawatts of electrical power. This means the lake has a key role in producing and distributing hydro power to the region around Oakland, and is a staple part of the Maryland landscape and infrastructure. 

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