Where to Go for the Best Wakeboarding In and Around Chicago
Everything you need to consider before you make your new wakeboard purchase
Chicago is a popular tourist destination in Illinois for many reasons. Some people go there for the museums and the famous Navy Pier. Some go there for the deep-dish pizza or the famous hot dogs. Some go there for Lake Michigan. It’s easy to find things to do in the city, but if you’re a wakeboarder it can be harder to find places to take your board out. For wakeboarding, Chicago has limited options, but if you know where to look you can find some good spots.
Whether you’re a Chicago native just starting out on wakeboarding, or you’re visiting the city and are itching to take to the water, here are some of the top places to visit.
Best wakeboarding Chicago
- Lake Michigan
- The Quarry Cable Park
- Fox River
- West Rock Wake Park
Lake Michigan is the second-largest of the famous Great Lakes, and its banks lie in four different states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. Chicago lies on the western bank of Lake Michigan, and there are many points of access for all sorts of water sports. Many people flock to the lake for all types of water sports, including wakeboarding. Because Lake Michigan is such a popular spot for water sports, it’s easy to find boat and equipment rentals.
Lake Michigan is a great spot for wakeboarding because of its mild temperatures. In the summer months the water is generally around 60-70 degrees. The best months to wakeboard there are July and August when the weather is warmest.
There are many boat launching locations around Lake Michigan, as well as state parks where you can camp and fish. Some good spots are Illinois Beach near the Minnesota border, Camp Ground Road Woods, and William W. Powers State Recreational Area near the Indiana border.
After you’ve been on the water for a while you can spend some time exploring the city, eating some good food, and seeing some popular sights. Or you can just relax on one of the beaches and enjoy some down time. No matter what you want to do, there’s always something for everyone when you’re wakeboarding Lake Michigan.
- Beautiful scenery
- Camping nearby
- Lots of space
- Climate can change quickly
The Quarry Cable Park
The Quarry Cable Park isn’t just a great place to go wakeboarding; it has a rich historical past. It’s part of the Three Oaks Recreation Area at Crystal Lake, which started as a gravel mine. Years of exhaustive mining left three large quarries, which eventually filled up with water, creating three lakes. Today they’re natural habitats with beautiful scenery and crystal-clear water where many people go to enjoy themselves.
The cable park is located on North Lake, an hour northwest of Chicago, and covers 32 acres. The park has a variety of ramps, and you can take private lessons and rent gear. After you’re done riding you can go for a swim at the nearby splash park (a great spot for kids!) or go scuba diving. You can also go canoeing, or take a hike down one of the recreation area’s many trails.
Hungry after all that adventure? The Quarry Grille is an excellent spot to grab a burger and a few drinks with your friends and spend some time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
- Private lessons
- Rentals available
- Wide variety of things to do
- Can be very popular
Find a great women's wakeboard for beginners or advanced riders.
Wakeboarders in the Chicago area often like to go to Fox River, a 202-mile tributary of the Illinois River. The Fox River marina in Port Barrington is centrally located along the river and is a popular spot for water sports of all kinds, including wakeboarding, waterskiing, and fishing.
The nature preserve along Fox River makes for some beautiful scenery while you’re riding, as well as some fun adventures. There are miles of trails along the river as well as picnic shelters. Campgrounds are available for larger groups.
- Beautiful scenery along the nature preserve
- Marina for boat launching
- Lots of space
- Campgrounds only available for large groups
West Rock Wake Park
Located conveniently in Rockford, Illinois, West Rock Wake Park is a short drive for anyone in Chicago, Madison, and Milwaukee. The water park is located within Levings Park, on Levings Lake, so you’ll have some lovely scenery to look at as you ride. You can bring your whole family and everyone will have something to do, even those not wakeboarding. While you’re out on the water your kids can enjoy one of the Levings Lakers programs, or you can all enjoy a show from the Levings Showcase.
West Rock has an environmentally-friendly cable system, the System 2.0 – a two-tower cable system by Sesitec that allows for wakeboarding, waterskiing, and kneeboarding. Everything at the park is convenient and affordable, and suitable for all riders’ skill levels and styles. There’s something for everyone there, whether you’re a beginner, a waterskier, or an expert wakeboarder.
If you’ve never wakeboarded before, don’t worry! West Rock offers classes for all skill levels at very affordable prices. Each class includes all equipment and coaching. The park also offers summer camps for kids. If you don’t have your own gear, each cable pass includes everything you’ll need for a great time on the water.
- Suitable for all skill levels
- Rentals available
- No campgrounds