Wake Nation

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Bucket lists, I'm convinced, are just an excuse to act like a kid. Why else would another mom and I agree to take our tween and teen sons to Wake Nation, a man-made facility north of Cincinnati where you wakeboard, kneeboard and do all sorts of wacky water-skimming activities using a cable system instead of a boat?

Because learning how to wakeboard was on our bucket lists.

Four cracked nails, three scratches, two rope burns and 27 ibuprofen later, I can report we crossed those items off our lists -- and had a blast doing so.

It's an ingenious setup. Situated in Fairfield's humungous Joyce Park, just north of Cincinnati, Wake Nation is one of nine similar facilities in the country. You've got a half-acre "Practice Pond" where a straight-line cable system helps you learn how to wakeboard.

Everyone's first runs, getting pulled up and out of the water by the cable line, were a comedy of errors. But the staff there really know their stuff and helpfully explain to you why you ended up with a snootful of pond water. By the end of our second runs, we were up on our feet and staying there.

The 10-acre "Pro Pond" is a tougher beast to tame. You take off on a tangent to the oval course, which was the undoing of most beginner adults. Interestingly, the kids had an easier time mastering the rapid takeoff (you get pulled along at 18 mph, though the practice pond has a beginner speed of 13 mph).

Wake Nation is much like a skateboard park. Though you've got your veterans throwing serious tricks on the Pro Pond's ramps, everyone is encouraging toward beginners.

The facility lets kids as young as 5 on the water, but I'd say that unless a young child is already a good skier or skateboarder, Wake Nation might prove frustrating. Ages 10 and up are a more realistic target.

There is a snack bar serving decent hamburgers and hot dogs. The one outdoor shower wasn't working the day we visited, but it's since been fixed, and there are restrooms for changing in. You can also rent equipment -- board, helmet and vest -- for an additional fee.

How to sum up the experience? Well, we didn't have the energy left to shop at Jeffersonville on the way home, and my son has put in a bid to go back every weekend.

Wake Nation

201 Joe Nuxhall Way, Fairfield



Cost: $25 per person for 2-hour ride pass (plus $16 to rent all equipment); $30 for 4-hour pass ($21 equipment); $35 for all-day pass ($27 equipment); season passes and lessons also available.

Hours: Through August, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; in September, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; in October, 12 noon-8 p.m. daily; closed November through April. Weekdays and mornings are the least crowded.

To win four free ride passes to Wake Nation, visit