Rocky Gap State Park
|Rocky Gap State Park|
|Maryland State Park|
|Elevation||1,165 ft (355 m) |
|Highest point||Evitts Mountain |
|- elevation||2,257 ft (688 m)|
|Area||3,119 acres (1,262 ha) |
|- Wildlands||943 acres (382 ha) |
|Management||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 publicly owned recreation area with resort features located on I-65 (exit 50), 7 miles (11 km) east of Cumberland in Allegany County, Maryland. The state park's 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) include Lake Habeeb, Evitts Mountain, and the privately owned and operated Rocky Gap Resort Casino. The park offers water recreation, camping facilities, and hiking trails. The park is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the resort by the Golden Casino Group.
The park originated with the donation of land by Edward Habeeb and others for the creation of a state park at Rocky Gap. Initial state purchases began in 1963 with land acquisition continuing until 1966. In 1970, the Army Corps of Engineers dammed Rocky Gap Run to create Lake Habeeb. The park opened in 1974.
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.
Activities and amenities
- Lake Habeeb
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.
- "Lake Habeeb". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Evitts Mountain". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- "Fiscal Year 2015 DNR Owned Lands Acreage" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. August 18, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- "Rocky Gap State Park". Maryland DNR. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- "Golden Casino Group". Retrieved February 5, 2016.
- 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. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- Leaderman, Daniel (June 20, 2012). "Sale of Rocky Gap resort approved". The Gazette (Gaithersburg, Md.). Archived from the original on June 20, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
- "Rocky Gap Casino Resort". Lakes Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. 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.
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