Watersports Hotspots

Summer is in high gear, so maybe it’s time to take the watersports show on the road. We have 20 potential destinations for families and their boat.


Canyon Walls
Lake Powell, Utah & Arizona

With its majestic canyon walls, Lake Powell offers a spectacular, surreal backdrop. Part of the Colorado River, Lake Powell is the second largest manmade lake in the U.S., and its 186-mile length spreads over southern Utah and northern Arizona. Towing the boat to Lake Powell is easy, but families can rent a boat for watersports or take lessons from coaches at various marina locations throughout Lake Powell. Either way, bring a camera.

Lake Powell

Picturesque Desert
Lake Pleasant, Arizona

About an hour from Phoenix, Lake Pleasant is a perfect spot in the desert Southwest — quiet water in a picturesque location. It is in a state park, so the shoreline is natural and undeveloped and lined with cacti. Mountains rise in the background. The shore features a shallow, rocky bank, so backwash is minimal, and protected coves are abundant. Rental boats are available and lessons in watersports are offered.

Lake Pleasant

Peace & Quiet
Lake Navajo, Colorado & New Mexico

About 30 miles from Durango, Colo., Lake Navajo spans 25 miles in length from southern Colorado into northwestern New Mexico. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, Lake Navajo features an arid climate and a cliff-lined background. The banks are undeveloped and feature a gentle natural slope of small rocks and sand, which minimizes backwash. Lake Navajo is a quiet lake with fewer boats than other lakes in the West, so there are plenty of ideal, peaceful conditions.

Ski Racing
Lake Elsinore, California

There aren’t many hotspots for watersports in the arid Southwest, but a really good one just southwest of Los Angeles is Lake Elsinore. With the Ortega Mountains in the background, the 3,300-acre lake offers watersports fanatics calm waters. Lake Elsinore is also a hotbed for waterski racing, and the lake is closed occasionally for waterski racing competitions hosted by the National Ski Racing Association. They are a sight to behold.

Every Possible Sport
California Delta

The Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, also known as the California Delta, is watersports heaven for West Coast enthusiasts. Formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, which flow into San Francisco Bay, the Delta offers more than 700 miles of waterways. Canals ranging from 150 to 1,000 feet wide go in every direction and deliver calm conditions no matter the wind direction. Everything that can be done behind a boat is done on the Delta, from tubing to barefooting to wakesurfing to sit-down hydrofoiling. The warm time of year for watersports on the Delta is from May to October, but hardcore enthusiasts wear a drysuit the rest of the year.

California Delta

Tournament Time
Crescent Bar (Columbia River), Washington

Most of the manufacturers of waterskis and boards are based in the Seattle area, but they often head to Crescent Bar on the Columbia River in western Washington for its calm water and picturesque bluff backdrop to conduct watersports photo shoots. Crescent Bar, known as Washington’s favorite summer vacation spot, offers ideal conditions and plenty of waterways. The INT League is hosting a fun family tournament featuring slalom, kneeboard, wakeboard, wakeskate and wakesurf competitions at Crescent Bar from Aug. 25 – 27, 2017, in conjunction with the Crescent Bar River Fest. Facilities such as Columbia River Boat Rental offer boat rentals.

Crescent Bar – Photo credit: Courtesy Connelly Skis

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