Allegany County is home to Maryland's beloved Rocky Gap State Park, an area of public land that features breathtaking views and an ever-popular lake. The park is situated near the border of Pennsylvania and is roughly a seven-mile drive from the city of Cumberland.
Rocky Gap State Park expands over 3,000 acres, showcasing rugged mountains, an impressive mile-long gorge, sheer cliffs, dense forests, and the centerpiece, Lake Habeeb. Some of the bluest water in the state of Maryland can be found in Lake Habeeb. The lake is fed via the Rocky Gap Run, which meanders through the mile-long gorge, sheer cliffs, and dense forest before flowing into the lake.
Guests can come here to utilize the day-use area, as well as camp overnight in the main campground. There are over 270 RV and tent campsites, 14 mini cabins, and a yurt to choose from at the park. The unique charm of the park calls in all sorts of visitors and it's easy to see why so many choose to come and spend a few nights out here. Camping at the park is the best way to get an in-depth take on the park and have the opportunity to fit in as many recreations as can be enjoyed.
The park has so much to offer, including kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, and swimming. Whether you're interested in the steep trek through the gorge, the leisurely walks to the fishing pier, the rugged biking trails, the lake's placid waters, or simply soaking up a few rays on the shoreline, Rocky Gap has the surroundings you are looking to immerse yourself in.
The park is approximately seven miles from the city of Cumberland, and visitors will find suitable shops and restaurants to stock up their supplies and grab a quick bite to eat. The park can easily be found and is a short distance off the I-68. RVers traveling to the park along the I-68 should be aware that there are several sections along the road that are very steep. The roads to the park are first double-lane and then narrow down to single-lane roads closer to the park. They paved, clearly marked, and are spacious enough for RVers to easily navigate.
Once inside the park, the roads remained paved and the drive is quite leisurely, with fairly straightforward signage and easy access between various areas of the park (including the Casino). Getting to the campground and setting up shop is pretty easy, too. Just watch out if you have a long trailer, as certain loops may make for some tight maneuvering.
While you are in the area, be sure to check out the Buchanan State Forest, which is home to a variety of different trees including the white oak, chestnut oak, black gum, and scarlet oak. Here you can enjoy many activities such as hiking through the stunning forest, taking photos, horse riding, and hunting. It's just a short drive of 8.3 miles into Pennsylvania.
Make sure to also check out the Warrior Wildlife Management Area which is spread over 5,000 acres of Maryland forest. It is ideal for hikers and photographers wanting to explore nature, and during the hunting season hunters can roam the forest in search of wild turkey, gray squirrels, and white-tailed deer. The Wildlife Management Area is located 11.2 miles south of the park.
There is plenty of parking space here, and at various locations, as this place doesn't just fill up with campers, but with day-use visitors as well. There are areas to park for the different trailheads, the gorge overlook, and casino. If you've brought your rig along with you, it's likely best to get it parked in the campgrounds instead of lugging it all around the lake.
The campground of Rocky Gap State Park features 278 campsites; some, found in Ash Loop, are equipped with 30-amp electrical hookups.
Some larger rigs may have a bit of trouble maneuvering through some areas of the campground, where things get a little tight for travel. There are only two pull-through sites, so snag these if you can. While most sites are quite spacious, some larger hauls may find themselves intimately parked among the trees. Most of the loops here are wooded, making for some lovely scenery, but this can cause some difficulty for campers with slide-outs.
RVers will find a dump station located within the park, two bathhouses for visitors, and hot water that is available in each loop. Pets are allowed to stay with campers in designated loops, and many of the trails allow for their accompaniment. While reservations are not required, families looking to spend a few nights here are advised to book ahead, as holidays, weekends, and summer months tend to bring in a decent-sized crowd. Reservations can be made for any time between May and December.
You can also rent the Easter Hill Chalet when you stay at Rocky Gap State Park. The chalet is situated in a private, forested area of its own that overlooks the lake. Visitors staying at the chalet must bring their own soap, linen, towels, bedding, and pillows. You will also have access to a fully furnished kitchen, wrap-around deck, gas fireplaces, outdoor fireplace, and grill.
When you haven't brought your home on wheels, guests of the park are also privy to other means of staying overnight - and not just good old tent camping. The park hosts 15 mini cabins, located throughout the campground, that can sleep up to six people.
Accommodations don't stop there. Rocky Gap State Park also provides guests with the option of staying in a yurt (which accommodates up to 15 guests with its adjoining camp pad). You can find the yurt and mini cabins throughout the campgrounds. Visitors at the mini cabins and yurts should bring their own linen and will have access to electricity, but not water.
Rocky Gap State Park can accommodate groups as large as 40 people at the Family Group Site. The campground is pet-friendly, so bring your furry family members along too!
Several of the sites offer electric hookups and there are bathhouses with showers. There is also a mini-cabin on-site for those who don't want to camp in a tent. When you want to settle down around the campfire in the evening, you are welcome to make use of the communal fire ring.
Youth groups can also make use of the camping areas nearby that have been specifically reserved for youth groups
The state park features all sorts of multi-use trails for guests to enjoy during their stay here, and you'll see plenty of guests taking the opportunity to get out on their bikes. The 5.3-mile Lakeside Loop Trail is one of the biking trails available, offering stunning views of Lake Habeeb. The trail is mainly a single dirt track, but there are a few short sections that are gravel or paved. This trail is recommended for bikers due to its distance and moderate difficulty. It is not overly challenging and, but can get a bit tight in a few places. This is a fun trail and ideal to take beginners on.
For park visitors who would like to take advantage of this sport, Rocky Gap State Park provides public access to over 1,400 acres for hunting. This area is easily reached by making a short trek from the Touch of Nature Trailhead parking lot or by coming from the campground. There is a separate area of Pleasant Valley Road that encompasses 300 acres and is only open to bow hunting. Hunting area maps are available at the Ranger Station. This is one unique recreation you can take advantage of while visiting Maryland in your motorhome.
If you're a fishing enthusiast, you're in luck. The park offers fishing in the lake where you can expect to reel in trout, catfish, panfish, and both largemouth and smallmouth bass. In order to assist the fish population, there are park volunteers that add artificial fish habitats in the lake, to increase brown trout and rainbow trout numbers. If you're over the age of 16 and looking to try your hand at fishing, be sure you have an active Maryland Non-Tidal/Freshwater fishing license.
If you want to take a simple stroll, you can try the quarter-mile stretch of the Touch of Nature Trail. It's an easy walk that offers a paved trail, meaning visitors of all ability levels are able to travel along it. Benches line the tree-edged pathway that leads over to the fishing dock. In the woods, 100 feet from the Touch of Nature parking lot, you'll find the Lemel Bucy Family Cemetery. This cemetery dates all the way back to the 19th century and is the family cemetery of the previous owners of land that the park is on. You'll also be able to see Civil War-era stones when you visit.
When you're looking for a magnificent view, you'll want to be sure you take the opportunity to witness the one-mile-long gorge. This gorge is shared by visitors who take the Canyon Overlook Trail, a quarter-mile long trek that offers a worthwhile scenic hiking destination. Usually, the longer, more difficult hikes produce some of the best views, and visitors hiking along this trail can witness the awe-inspiring landscape. Make sure to take enough water and food along - and don't forget to take your camera along to capture pictures of the views!
Lake Habeeb is an excellent place for boating at Rocky Gap State Park. As long as you don't have a gas motor on your boat, you are good to go. You can easily launch your boat at the public ramp, which is just off Pleasant Valley Road. If you didn't bring your own watercraft, you can rent canoes and kayaks from the Day Use Area during the summer.
The lake allows for all sorts of watercraft opportunities, including many forms of paddle boats. Paddling along the shore lake is a great way to explore the lake, and you'll find several different coves to stop at and enjoy a break while enjoying the scenery. It's okay if you don't have a boat that you regularly pack up for trips; the park has you covered. There are rentals available for canoes, kayaks, and even stand up paddleboards. These rentals are available from Memorial Day weekend through to Labor Day and can be found in the Day Use Area and at the campground's beach.
The aviary at Rocky Gap State Park offers an exciting educational program for visitors to the park. This program utilizes non-releasable birds of prey and reptiles that have been previously injured and rehabilitated by qualified staff. The Scales and Tales naturalists highlight important environmental problems, like environmental pollution and loss of habitat, by telling stories about how the birds in their care got injured and ended up in the program.
All the species in the program are native to Maryland and are often wildlife that you may even get a glimpse of during your stay. It's a highly unique activity that will be worth reliving long after this adventure is over.
You can enjoy the interpretive programs that the park's staff conducts through the summer, all based out of the Nature Center. The center offers guests all sorts of activities, and each is an opportunity to learn more about the culture and natural history of the park. Types of programs include talks, demonstrations, nature hikes, children's programs, nature crafts, campfire programs, and special events. Group programs can also be arranged throughout the year upon request and can be adjusted to suit the group's needs.
There are a variety of trails to choose from when looking for a hiking opportunity during your stay at Rocky Gap State Park. The trails here range in terms of terrain, difficulty levels, and length. The longest hike is just over five miles and the shortest one is a quart-mile long. One of the more popular trails is the Lakeside Loop Trail that encircles the entirety of Lake Habeeb.
Hikers who take on this 5.3-mile trek will be rewarded with the beautiful scenery of the area. Don't let this be your only view of the place, though, there is a variety of diverse trails here are sure to keep you busy.