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Our In-Depth Guide to the Scenic Vermilion Lakes

Our In-Depth Guide to the Scenic Vermilion Lakes

Offering an unobstructed view of Mount Rundle, Vermilion Lakes is a place that will leave you in awe! The trio of lakes reflects the scenic mountains, perfect for a short adventure just minutes from the town of Banff.

It’s not hard to visit this gorgeous place if you know where to go. We’ve made a travel guide to make sure you enjoy your stop at Vermilion Lakes, complete with places to stay, restaurants to try, and more.

Things to Know



Contact Details (Banff & Lake Louise Tourism)

  • Local – 403-762-8421
  • Toll-Free – 877-762-8421

Operating Hours: 

  • Banff & Lake Louise Tourism – Monday – Sunday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Vermilion Lakes – Daily, year-round

Admission* (National Park Pass):

  • Day Pass
    • Adult (18 – 64) – $10.50
    • Senior (65+)- $9.00
    • Youth (6 – 17) – Free
    • Family/Group – $21.00
    • Commercial Group, per person – $9.00
  • Discovery Pass
    • Adult (18 – 64) – $72.25
    • Senior (65+) – $61.75
    • Family/Group – $145.25

*passes are available for purchase online, at the park gates, or at visitor centres

Best Time to Go

It’s always a good idea to visit Vermilion Lakes any day of the week, given that it’s stunning and open year-round. Each season will give you an unforgettable experience.

But the best time to visit is before sunrise or sunset because one of its allures is a gorgeous spot for picture-taking due to the stunning views of Mount Rundle, complete with its reflection on the clear waters.

But if you want to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), visit from September to April. There’s no light pollution, giving you the best view of the lights dancing in the skies.

How to Get There

By car: From the town of Banff, drive south on Banff Avenue and turn right on Wolf Street. Take another right on Lynx Street and continue straight until you reach Mt. Norquay Road.

From there, turn left onto Vermilion Lakes Road, which parallels the Trans-Canada Highway, until you see the first lake. Vermilion Lakes Road is located along the side of the lake. 

However, there’s limited parking. One option is to turn right and park on Fenland Trail from Mt. Norquay Road and walk a short distance to the first lake.

By bicycle: Vermilion Lakes is close to Banff Town, so cycling is a good mode of transportation, and there are many bike rentals in town. Head on the Mt. Norquay Road bike path and turn left to the lakes.

By hike: A popular and short hike to Vermilion Lakes is via the Fenland Trail. And with only a 2.1 km loop, you’ll end up back where you started in a short time, taking a little over 30 minutes without stops.

What to Do

With its three lakes and gorgeous views, there’s plenty to do here. It certainly helps that it’s free, so you won’t have to worry about your vacation budget! 

Explore the lakes and kayak (kayaking ontario) or canoe along the marshlands from May to October. You can kick off from Bow River and paddle through Vermilion Lakes, but you can start right at Vermilion Lakes since it’s a long stretch with plenty of docks.

If you choose to start at Bow River, you’ll encounter rapids and obstacles like fallen trees, so this isn’t for first-timers. You’ll also see wildlife, such as muskrats, beavers, moose, elks, and eagles.

But once you’re in the lake, you probably won’t see much that will interrupt your paddling. It’s also quite noisy at Vermilion Lakes because it’s right next to the Trans-Canada Highway, so head early to avoid a lot of car noise.

Hike the Fenland Trail on the side of the lake, which is just a short loop. It’s pretty flat with just a tiny bit of elevation gain, making it ideal for beginners—but it can get muddy, so bringing a stroller for family trips may not always be a good idea.

The trail leads to Vermilion Lakes, where you can stop and take some pictures of the scenic views. This hike will take less than an hour, and the reason you’ll take longer is to appreciate the wildlife—if you’re lucky, you’ll see deer, elk and plenty of bird species!

Remember to bring bug spray to protect yourself from becoming mosquito food, and it’s best to bring bear spray since Banff is bear country—you can purchase it at the visitor centre or rent it at one of the shops in town (try Ultimate Sports at Caribou Corner Mall).

Banff National Park is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. Luckily, Vermilion Lakes is one of the spots!

Thanks to clear skies and the lack of light pollution, we can see the green lights dance over the mountain range. Get there early and save a deck for a good viewing spot!

The months of September to April give you a higher chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, preferably during wintertime. But ultimately, it’ll depend on the weather conditions.

Bring your camera gear and make the memory last longer! It’s a famous spot to take pictures because both Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain beautifully—and clearly—reflect on the lake waters.

Go before sunrise or sunset to set up your stuff because those are the best times to capture picture-perfect views. Then again, Vermilion Lakes is gorgeous any time of day.

Where to Stay

Vermilion Lakes is minutes away from the town of Banff, which is why there are plenty of hotels (best hotels in banff) to stay at that will give you quick access to the shops.

We’ve rounded up our favourites!


Address: 345 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1H8, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Toll-Free North America – 1-866-379-0021
  • Local – 403-760-8570

Average Rate: $279/night (varies depending on room and dates)

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Roughly a 10-minute walk to the Banff Train Station, this hotel is pretty close to Mt Norquay Road. It will also take you around 6 to 8 minutes to cycle to Fenland Trail should you decide to hike from there.

There’s a rooftop hot pool that’s open until eleven at night, so if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis from here. Guests also get a free Roam Transit pass to any of its routes in Banff.

Since this hotel is on Banff Avenue, it gives you access to restaurants, cafes, shops, and bus stops. It also has a restaurant inside and a spa for a complete and relaxing stay.


Address: 138 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A7, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Toll Free – 1-866-606-6700
  • Fax – 1-403-762-6750

Average Rate: $149/night (varies depending on room and dates)

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The place to stay if you want to have a full-on relaxing vacation. This hotel has a lobby museum, a library, clothing shops, an ice cream shop, and a dog boutique.

With the rooftop lounge, you get an unobstructed view of the mountains—a great place to relax and take pictures! But since it’s also located along Banff Avenue, there are many options outside to eat and shop.


Address: 545 Banff Ave #1B5, Banff, AB T1L 1B5, Canada

Contact Details: 

Average Rate: $169/night (varies depending on room and dates)

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A Banff hotel that gives a Canadian mountain experience, this place has fire pits you and your family or friends can gather up next to during cold nights while roasting marshmallows. It also has hot tubs and a 9°C cold plunge tub to awaken your senses!

There are BBQ grills you can use to cook up a party. And since this is located in the heart of the town, you have quick access to shops to gather ingredients.

Complete with its rental bicycles for strolling around town, you can expect a convenient stay in the Canadian Rockies since there’s no need to drive everywhere.


Address: 333 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B1, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Local – 877-442-2623
  • Toll Free – (877) 442-2623

Starting Rate: $125/night

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This hotel is for individuals looking for a mountain escape with a contemporary twist! The hotel’s interior screams mountain classic, while the rooms are stylishly modern with a minimalist design.

It’s the place to go for guests with furry companions. There are pet-friendly rooms, with a maximum of two pets per room!

Located in the centre of the town, there’s convenient access to shops and restaurants. It’s also just a 6-minute drive to Vermilion Lakes.

Where to Eat

With a tonne of restaurant choices near Vermilion Lakes, it’s hard to choose! Here are some of our favourites conveniently located in town!


Address: 208 Wolf St #101, Banff, AB T1L 1B3, Canada

Contact Details: [email protected]

Opening Hours: 

  • Monday – Friday & Sunday: 4:30 PM – 9:30 PM
  • Saturday: 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM

The place to eat at if you love karaoke. You can book the room to sing, dance, and eat for an event or just because!

A must-try is the lobster maki roll and the mushroom ragu. For assorted sashimi, the sushi boat is a definite buy.

Try to visit during happy hour for half off on sushi and only $6.50 on pints and cocktails. Sip the refreshing watermelon sake slush, too, for an ideal pairing with sushi!

rice, different viands and spices
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Address: Wolf & Bear Mall, 229 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1B1, Canada

Contact Details: 403-760-6612

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM & 5:00 PM – 9:30 PM

The first Indian restaurant in Banff, this eatery inside Wolf & Bear Mall offers various authentic dishes. A must-try is the rich and creamy butter chicken with a hint of spice.

The curry sauce is very flavourful, and you can order it with prawn, chicken, fish, or lamb. Don’t forget to order naan and scoop some sauce with it!


Address: 211 Bear St, Banff, AB T1L 1A1, Canada

Contact Details: 403-762-2021

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM

If you’re driving back to town from the first lake, this will only take five to six minutes. It’s an ideal place for lunch and dinner, especially with the delicious pairing of nachos and pizza—try The Big Bird or The Godfather or both!

And if you’re travelling with your furry companion, a dog-friendly patio is open year-round. It even comes with a doggie menu!


Address: 401 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A9, Canada

Contact Details: 

  • Phone- 403-760-7298 
  • Fax – 403-762-5905

Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:30 AM – 6:00 PM

Unwinding with a hot drink is always a good idea in Banff. This independently owned specialty cafe makes fresh products every single day!

The decadent tiramisu hot chocolate goes with any puff pastry, but make it extra perfect by sitting on the patio next to the fire pit. But you can’t go wrong with fresh coffee paired with a yummy chocolate banana muffin!

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