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ESCAPE KEYS: Wisp Resort

The snow-tubing hill at Wisp Resort.
The snow-tubing hill at Wisp Resort. (By Crede Calhoun -- Wisp Resort)
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

GETTING THERE: Take Interstate 270 north to I-70 west toward Hagerstown. Then take I-68 west to Route 219 south toward Oakland. Follow for 12 miles until you see signs for Wisp.

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THE RIDE: Solo coaster riders pay $9.50 for one ride, $25 for three, $75 for 10; double riders pay $15 for one, $40 for three, $130 for 10. Discounts available when buying snow tubing and coaster tickets together (by phone or in person).

It's open year-round, but call for hours. Riders must be at least 3 years old and 38 inches tall. Children 7 and younger must ride with someone who's at least 16. Riders must sign a waiver of liability (with a parent or guardian's signature for those younger than 18).

SNOW ACTIVITIES AT WISP:

* Hit the ski or snowboarding slopes. The resort has 32 ski runs and trails rated as "easier," "more difficult" and "most difficult." There are seven snowboarding trails, including one for kids. Lift tickets from $23 in peak season, equipment rental from $34.

* Slide down a hill. Get towed up the side of the mountain, then career down a bumpy slope on an oversize snow tube. From $15 per person for a two-hour session; tube provided.

* Learn to ski. Instructors run group ski lessons for ages 3 to 7 and 8 to 14. From $65 per child.

* Take a night snowmobile tour. With only your headlights to brighten your path and a guide to lead the way, steer a snowmobile around a dark, wooded circuit. Half-hour rides, $45 per person.

STAYING THERE: The ski-in, ski-out Wisp Resort (296 Marsh Hill Rd., McHenry, Md.) is frenetic and family-friendly, with 169 rooms and suites. Ski-and-stay package deals from $73 per person per night based on double occupancy; check Web site (see below) for other deals.

A quieter option is the lodgelike Comfort Inn Deep Creek Lake (2704 Deep Creek Dr., 301-387-4200), less than a half-mile away. The hotel has 75 large rooms and a lobby fireplace; from $116, including continental breakfast.

INFO: 800-462-9477, http://www.wispresort.com. For mountain conditions, call 301-387-4911.

-- E.L.P.


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