Wakeboard the Willamette

Wakeboard the Willamette

Put a surfer, a snowboarder and water skier on a fiberglass plank and you have more than the makings of a very bad joke.

It's wakeboarding, a sport combining the talents of all three athletes. To succeed, you'll need the surfer's leg control, a snowboarder's knack for aerial precision and the upper-body strength of the water skier.

The rider is towed behind a boat. While some say you need speeds of up to 24 mph for a good run, most experts think that 14-18 mph is enough.

In Oregon, one of the best places to try wakeboarding is on the Willamette River between Newberg and Boone's Ferry Landing, near Wilsonville. Experienced riders call this area, "wakeboard alley."

They also recommend early morning runs when the water is more likely to be smooth, but they caution that this stretch of river doesn't have much beachfront. They recommend Champoeg State Park for a place to tie up, have lunch and find a restroom.

You can check out the wakeboarding community, get some wakeboard tutorials, product reviews and other locations to try your skill at or

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at

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