Rocky Gap State Park
|Rocky Gap State Park|
|Maryland State Park|
Former entrance sign
|Elevation||1,165 ft (355 m) |
|Area||3,119 acres (1,262 ha) |
|- Wildlands||943 acres (382 ha) |
|Owner||Maryland Department of Natural Resources|
|IUCN category||V - Protected Landscape/Seascape|
|Nearest city||Cumberland, Maryland|
|Website: Rocky Gap State Park|
Rocky Gap State Park is a 3,000-acre (1,200 ha) Maryland state park in Allegany County. It is 7 miles (11 km) east of Cumberland on Interstate 68 (exit 50) and is about a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The park includes the man-made Lake Habeeb and the privately owned and operated Rocky Gap Resort Casino. Rocky Gap offers year-round recreation including swimming, camping, fishing, boating, and hiking.
Activities and amenities
The Rocky Gap Resort and Golf Course was developed in 1998 by the Maryland Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), an agency created in 1984 that allows the State of Maryland to directly own or develop property for economic benefit. The facility opened in April 1998 at a cost of $53.9 million. The resort failed to sustain its early success, began posting losses, and became dependent on MEDCO subsidies to stay in operation. In 2009, the state's initial effort to open a casino in the park failed when the only bidder, Empire Resorts, did not pay the required $4.5 million licensing fee. Empire's contingent bid was based on Maryland altering its 67 percent tax on casinos—one of the highest in the United States. In 2011, legislators lowered the state’s share of slots revenue at Rocky Gap from 67 percent to 50 percent. A casino license was awarded in April 2012 to a subsidiary of Lakes Entertainment of Minnetonka, Minnesota, who completed purchase of the existing resort, including the 200-room lakeside lodge, the Jack Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf course, and other features, from the state in August 2012. The sale price was reported at less than $7 million. The renamed Rocky Gap Casino Resort opened on May 22, 2013, with 558 slot machines and 10 live table games.
The park's man-made Lake Habeeb covers 243 acres (98 ha) and sports white sand beaches. It sits below Evitts Mountain and is fed by Rocky Gap Run. Boats (electric motors only) are allowed on Lake Habeeb 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and a fee is assessed. The park offers paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes for rent. Fish most commonly caught by anglers at Lake Habeeb include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, black crappie, rainbow trout, brown trout, channel catfish, bluegill, redear sunfish, and pumpkinseed.
Hiking trails include the four-mile (6 km) Lakeside Trail and the five-mile (8 km) Evitt's Homesite Trail, which climbs Evitts Mountain amid streams with hemlock, mountain laurel and rhododendron growing nearby. The quarter-mile Touch of Nature Trail is a paved route to an accessible fishing dock.
The park's amphitheater and concert stage can be rented. Its seating capacity is 3,000, and the stage area is 42 feet (13 m) by 60 feet (18 m). The stage was built as a permanent home for the Rocky Gap Country Bluegrass Festival (1988-2001) but was never used for those shows.
Rocky Gap is served by the Volunteer Team, Inc., a group of Western Maryland and surrounding community citizens that participate in daily operations in the park.
- "Lake Habeeb". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. 1992-09-01. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- "FY2013 DNR Owned Lands Acreage Report". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Rocky Gap State Park". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Rocky Gap State Park". The Mountain Side of Maryland. MdMountainside.com.
- Kraft, Randy (April 12, 1998). "First state park hotel in Maryland is open for business". The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.). Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Dresser, Michael; Cho, Hanah (April 26, 2012). "Rocky Gap casino license awarded". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Spradlin, Kevin (February 13, 2009). "State rejects New York group’s Rocky Gap slots proposal". Cumberland Times-News. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Leaderman, Daniel (June 20, 2012). "Sale of Rocky Gap resort approved". The Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.). Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Rocky Gap Casino Resort". Lakes Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Dresser, Michael (June 19, 2012). "State poised to cut Rocky Gap losses". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Secret, Katie (June 27, 2013). "Rocky Gap Casino blames weather on slow start". Baltimore Business Journal. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Rocky Gap Music Pavilion". DNC Architects. Archived from the original on February 16, 2001.
- "Rocky Gap amphitheater could see some use in the future". Cumberland, Md.: WCBC Radio. July 22, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Volunteer with Rocky Gap State Park". Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 28, 2013.