Vermilion Lakes • 6 Reasons You MUST Visit

Vermilion Lakes (or Lake Vermilion) reflect the iconic Mount Rundle that looms over the town of Banff. The three lakes are situated west of Banff and fed by the Bow River in the Canadian Rockies. Photographers seek out the lakes during golden hours as they provide a sublime landscape and the opportunity to spot wildlife close to town. Finding a better place to end the day in Banff is tough.

Vermilion Lakes
Ice Skating On Vermillion Lakes

Why You Must Visit Vermilion Lakes (Lake Vermilion)

It’s One of the Best Sunset Spots in Banff

Vermilion Lakes Sunset Couple

One of the finest spots to observe the sunset in Banff is the Vermilion Lakes. They are a splendid setting of natural beauty and, compared to many parts of the park, relatively quiet. On a warm evening, head here with some drinks and comfy clothes to witness a spectacular end to the day as the final light of the day strikes Mount Rundle.


All those who relax along the shores will hardly find a more calming way to end the day. The striking scene is equally suited to enjoy in the morning with a coffee. If you score some space on one of the docks, consider yourself lucky, you have the best view in the house!

Vermilion Lakes are an Ideal Place To Paddle

Vermillion Lakes

An extensive network of marshlands supplies the habitat for much of the birdlife in the area. The marshlands are best explored by a canoe or kayak as a series of channels connect the lakes are prime for exploration. Reeds, trees, and the landscape provide natural protection, so the water remains gentle, perfect for novice paddlers.

It’s the perfect way to take in the lakes from a different perspective as you can paddle a canoe or kayak through the marsh. Keep an eye out for beavers, muskrats, or a bald eagle. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent from the Banff Canoe Club on Bow Avenue. You can paddle the calm waters of Echo Creek and Forty Mile Creek from the Banff Canoe Club.

Spot Some Wildlife

The marshlands are prime habitats for wildlife and birdlife. Not only are Vermilion Lakes a wonderful spot to relax and enjoy the serene nature, but there is a good chance you won’t be alone as wildlife frequent the area. The most common animals to see are elk, mule deer, and the occasional moose or bear.

There have even been sightings of wolves in the area, but don’t expect to see the elusive animals. If nothing else you’re guaranteed to find some birdlife such as eagles, osprey, loons, bufflehead, and a slew of rare and common birds. It’s a given that you’re never alone at Vermilion Lakes.

Stretch The Legs on a Short Hike

Fall in Banff Vermilion Lakes

If you’re looking for a small walk in nature the Fenland trail is a nice trail that loops through a white spruce forest and the marshlands near Vermilion Lakes. This is an easy Banff hike that is just a short 2 km kilometer loop along a gravel trail and a fabulous way to take in some nature.

A small trail connects Fenland Trail to Vermilion Lakes Drive where you can walk to one of the several docks on the lakes to take in some views of Mt. Rundle and Sulphur.

Capture Breathtaking Photos

Mount Rundle Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is one of the best locations for photographs in Banff. Photographers seek out the lakes during golden hour as they provide a sublime landscape and the opportunity to spot wildlife close to town. It’s a great spot as it doesn’t take much effort to get to Vermilion Lakes, but the scenery still remains breathtaking. Evening light is best as it strikes Mt. Rundle and creates a serene reflection in the lakes.

Northern Lights and Ice Bubbles

Vermilion Lakes

With close proximity to town and no light pollution, they’re a great spot for stargazing. If you’re particularly fortunate you can even catch the Northern Lights in Banff between the months of September-April.

Winter months are best as the days are shorter and the sky is darker. The lakes do freeze over in the winter and it is common to find methane bubbles stuck in the ice.

Vermilion Lakes

FAQ About Vermilion Lakes

Do You Need a Parks Pass to Visit Vermilion Lakes?

Vermilion Lakes are located in Banff National Park, so a Parks Canada pass is needed to visit the lakes. Park passes cost $11.00 per day per person. Or you can buy them from Parks Canada in advance online. If you’re staying in Banff for over a few days, I highly recommend a Discovery Pass. A Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year, is only $151.25 for a family.

Are There Facilities at Vermilion Lakes?

There are no restroom facilities at Vermilion Lakes. However there are a few picnic benches to sit and enjoy the view.

Where Can You Park at Vermilion Lakes?

There aren’t many places to park along Vermilion Lakes Rd. Most visitors will park along the road and get out for a quick stop, however this is limited especially during the summer months. If you can’t find parking near the Vermilion Lakes Viewpoint, you can park at the Fenland Trailhead off of Mount Norquay Rd.

Can You Swim in Vermilion Lakes?

I suppose technically you could? However, not only are the Banff lakes freezing, but Vermilion Lakes, in particular, are shallow and marshy, so it’s truly best left for the ducks to swim in.

What is the Mountain By Vermilion Lakes?

The mountain you see in front of you when visiting Vermilion Lakes is the beautiful Mount Rundle.

Stay Nearby!

The Rimrock

Is a super great pet friendly option in Banff. It’s close to Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Hot Springs.

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Mount Royal Hotel Banff
Mount Royal Hotel

A great option on Banff Avenue. They also have one of the best restaurants in Banff inside their hotel – The Brazen!

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The Dorothy

Good budget option that is within close walking distance to the main Banff Ave drag!

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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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