Mountain scenery, wildlife-spotting opportunities, hiking trails and canoeing adventures await you at this series of lakes in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
Appreciate the serenity and natural beauty of the Vermilion Lakes. This chain of three lakes and verdant marshland is an ideal place to escape the busy tourist activity of Banff. Vermilion Lakes have drawn people for almost 11,000 years. Today, the area is a popular area to canoe, hike, view soaring mountains, picnic along the waterfront and spot wildlife.
Sit on the shore of one of the lakes and gaze in awe at a spectacular mountain backdrop dominated by Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain. Watch as the mountains’ jagged peaks reflect perfectly in the third lake. Visit at either sunrise or sunset to witness the changing colors of the sky and water. In winter it is sometimes possible to see the enchanting northern lights.
Spot varied wildlife such as beavers, deer, moose and an occasional bear. Look for blue herons, red-tailed hawks and water dippers, among other birds.
Set out on foot along the pavement, boardwalks and dirt tracks of the 1-mile-long (2-kilometer) Fenland Loop Trail. Drive, bike or walk along Vermilion Lakes Road, a 2.7-mile (4.3-kilometer) path passing the lakes’ northern banks. At Vermilion Lakes Viewpoint enjoy panoramic vistas and excellent photo opportunities. Stop at interpretive signs to read about the ecology, ethnology and geology of the lakes.
Cruise in a canoe or kayak for an alternative perspective of the lakes and surrounding countryside. Reach the lakes by paddling down Echo Creek and Forty Mile Creek. The calm waters make this activity suitable for all levels of fitness. Rent equipment from the jetty on Bow Avenue, a short walk from Banff’s town center.
The lakes are a 5-minute drive or 30-minute walk from Banff. Use the free parking available at the first lake and at the start of the Fenland Loop Trail. Pay the entrance fee for Banff National Park in order to reach the town of Banff and the lakes.
Vermilion Lakes are accessible year-round. However, be prepared for extreme weather conditions in the winter months. The Vermilion Lakes Road forms part of the Banff Legacy Trail, a multi-use recreational route that links the Bow Valley Parkway with Canmore.