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How to catch waves away from the ocean

Aug. 13, 2014, 8:12 a.m.
Lake Superior

Photo: Randen Pederson/Flickr

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The Great Lakes

Surfers on the St. Lawrence River near Montreal catch endless waves each summer, as do off-season skiers and snowboarders in Wyoming's Snake River near Jackson Hole. But for a growing number of boarders, the best place to catch saltless waves is in the Great Lakes.

North America's five sea-sized lakes may lack the ocean's consistent waves, but the crests reach oceanlike heights in some places. When conditions are right, 3- to 5-foot waves are common, with some spots offering storm-created swells that rise to 10 feet. Weather buoys occasionally record 20-footers on the lakes after especially harsh storms. (The waves that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald, the famous Great Lakes shipwreck, were thought to be about 30 feet.)