I was lucky enough to visit Wisp Resort back in January and everyone was talking about the fact that they were celebrating 50 years of Wisp. I could easily dive into a history lesson however while their past IS interesting, it is their present and future that is shining bright.
When the ski slope was first opened, it consisted of a rope tow, a small hut warmed by a single pot-bellied stove, and the rental equipment was provided from the bed of a pickup truck owned by Ace Heise, who along with his wife Evelyn started Wisp. That was more than 50 years ago and while there’s a lot of wonderful history that brought Wisp to where it is today…the reason for this feature story is THE PRESENT. Wisp Resort at Deep Creek is one sweet ski resort, located in one sweet community!
Back during the summer of 2005, Wisp held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the nine million dollar expansion. The ceremony was attended by Wisp founder, Helmuth “Ace” Heise, and dozens of resort and state officials. The event announced the addition of “North Camp” which heralded the coming of some of the most exciting terrain available at Wisp. North Camp features a vert of 700 feet and ten trails that total more than three miles and added 33 acres of skiable terrain to the resort. 70% of the new acreage is beginner terrain, 20% is intermediate and 10% is billed as expert. The two new Quad lifts added more than 60% to Wisp’s capability of moving people up the mountain.
None of this huge expansion would mean a thing without improvements in snowmaking and Wisp’s snowmaking system is second to none! They boast of their system being enhanced by some 50% in pumping capacity and they nearly doubled their snowmaking machines. I was allowed a tour of their mountaintop snowmaking facility and even though Wisp receives an average of 100 inches of snowfall annually, all they really need is cold temperatures to blanket their trails with snow. Wisp has one of the world’s largest and most energy-efficient snowmaking systems. Wisp has further increased its snowmaking capabilities with the addition of a new state-of-the-art control center and snowmaking pump house.
The new facility increased Wisp’s snowmaking pumping capacity by 48%. In addition to housing the extensive snowmaking pumping system, a new control room was added to monitor and control snowmaking machines, chairlifts, lighting, music and video, HVAC and weather stations.
I can tell you that the control center looks like something from the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek fame. On one wall are several flat panel monitors that rotate views from more 20 some odd web cams on the mountain. They can pan, tilt and zoom into shots all over the mountain and even zoom in to see if jets are outputting properly on snowguns. It was really quite impressive to see in person. The snowmaking operations at Wisp, with computerized weather and pumping stations, certainly place it among the very best in the entire country and perhaps among the top five. The 100% airless snowmaking system is capable of producing 145 acre feet of snow per day. Spread this out evenly over Wisp’s 32 trails and in just 24 hours the snow depth would be over 1 foot!
They began making snow for the 2005-2006 season on November 17th, and opened on Friday, November 25th! That opening day was even more exciting than usual by the fact that Wisp at Deep Creek was going to be skiing on ten new trails and with two new Quad lifts for the season. I had a few moments with new General Manager Tim Prather, Marketing Director Kelli Johnson and the new Events and Public Relations Manager Lori Epp and they were all beaming over more than NINE MILLION DOLLARS worth of expansion that was gaining rave reviews when I visited in January. Actually Wisp Resort, located in
Wisp has some wise ownership because their investments are drawing from winter sports enthusiasts who live in the
Whitewater enthusiasts will be excited to know that Wisp has already broken ground and begun developed of an Adventure Sports International’s recirculating white water course, the first of its kind in the country. Wisp Resort is in close enough proximity to some of the most well known whitewater rivers in the country and with the addition of this new whitewater park, they will no doubt attract outdoor enthusiasts from all over the
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the resort community had numerous lodging options as well as very nice restaurants close to and within the resort grounds. DC’s Bar & Grill serves a great lunch and dinner menu. We dined there on two separate occasions while were there and both meals were phenomenal. Just across from the entrance to the resort is also a very nice restaurant called Santa Fe Grill which offers a great view of Wisp’s slopes and a variety of entrees that are definitely “south of the border!” We dined there upon our arrival and in addition to a comfortable interior; they have some very tasty fajitas! Some of our group tried the sandwiches and we started things off with a great portabella crab appetizer that was scrumptious!
Lodging at the resort is very nice as well. The
I couldn’t do justice to this story if I didn’t mention one of Wisp’s most exciting venues. Many will be surprised upon reading that I am alluding to a snow tubing hill. Don’t criticize me until you’ve tried this one! I have sampled the tubing hills at numerous resorts and while they are all fun for the entire family, Wisp’s goes a little beyond fun. If you’re in for a VERY REAL adrenalin rush you should give the 750’
Snowboarding enthusiasts will love Wisp as they provide not one but TWO terrain parks, including the
I was able to get in nearly three days of skiing and while I enjoyed the North Camp trails, I think the new trails serve a dual purpose. First they are great for beginners who need gentle slopes to work on the skills on…they also help to disperse heavy holiday crowds across a wider area. The top of the mountain provides a lot of choices as to which way to get down the mountain. Of the trails I hit I really liked Squirrel Cage and my favorite was Eye Opener. It provided some great steeps and an awesome view of
Wisp offers plenty of unique trails and is a bona-fide four-season resort that I highly recommend that you make plans to try. As I mentioned earlier, they pull most of the visitors from the Mid-Atlantic region, but if you’re wanting a great getaway for a week or so, the drive from most areas of the Southeast is not bad. From points south into
Wisp Resort lies in the heart of Garrett County, the western most and largest county in
WISP Resort at Deep Creek is bigger, better and one heck of a great place to visit regardless of the great skiing!
This year Wisp Resort expanded to make for 33% more ski and snowboarding terrain that last season and that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what makes Wisp such a great place to visit. Every weekend is packed full of fun with regular bonfires, DJs, games and more at
There’s plenty of Winter left and with Wisp’s incredible snowmaking system and Deep Creek’s cold climate, March often delivers some great Spring skiing. …and there’s plenty of fun planned in March as well! Wisp’s “Beachin Weekend” takes place March 18-19th celebrating their cold weather recreation while looking forward to the warm days to come. During “Beachin Weekend” they have many fun activities including the Cardboard Box Derby held on the 19th. Competitors use cardboard, duct tape and a whole lot of imagination to create the faster “vehicle” possible to get them down the slopes of the tubing hill! They will have a DJ on hand to keep things hoppin’. That one event offers some crazy designs, wild outfits and half the fun is watching for the “technical difficulties” that often arise!
While the focal point of this story IS the skiing, Wisp Resort at Deep Creek holds the promise of abundant recreation no matter the season. They have recreation and relaxation to make for a lifetime of vacation memories. The lake and the surrounding area offer boating, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding and more. As they like to say at Wisp, “With so much to do and see, ONE visit just isn’t enough!”
We discovered a little place called “Western Trails Riding Stables” that offers trail rides, hayrides, pony rides and lessons year round. If you’re into a little sleigh riding, there’s even a great little place called “Pleasant Valley Dream Riders” which offers carriage and sleigh rides through Amish Country. Another popular winter activity that is growing is Snowshoeing and there are many places around Wisp that offer snowshoe rentals!
After only one visit I found myself wanting to see more and we will. I highly recommend that you plan one trip to this unique and fast-growing, yet comfortable resort and I guarantee that you will be back again and again. That’s a familiar story in
Owning a homesite or home at Deep Creek Mountain Resort gives you very privileged, very special access into a unique world of four-season vacation home living. Your home will be high atop
Visit Wisp’s website at www.WispResort.com and make plans to visit there soon! (We are uploading many new images within the Photos of the Day section for Wisp Resort and you can see enlarged views of how nice this resort is by CLICKING HERE!
Until Next Time!
Be sure to check out www.SkiSoutheast.com for more news and stories for all of the Southeast’s ski areas.
Be sure to email photos, snow reports and comments to: [email protected]