The interstate crosses Preston and Monongalia Counties, in a highly rural route. Just west of the West Virginia/Maryland border, FCI Hazelton can be seen to the north. Between Bruceton Mills and Cheat Lake, the most dramatic mountain on the interstate is crossed, known as Cooper's Rock. This mountain can become impassible in a heavy snow. At the base of the mountain on the west side is the Lakeview Resort.
The section through downtown Cumberland, Maryland features a long bridge, known as the "crosstown bridge" that completely spans the city. Immediately west of the bridge, the interstate goes through an area known as "Moose Turn" where it makes an abrupt "S" turn to avoid the Potomac River, which flows immediately to the south of the road at that point. For the next several miles, the interstate proceeds over Haystack Mountain, one of the few remaining syncline fold mountains in the Appalachian Chain (suggesting it was once one of the highest). The interstate climbs past Frostburg, Maryland, crosses into Garrett County, enroute to the West Virginia line.