Vermilion River segments and maps

Map: Vermilion River

The Vermilion River flows 42 miles north from Lake Vermilion to Crane Lake. Surrounded by the Kabetogama State Forest, the river winds along forests of pine, spruce, fir, aspen and birch. Much of the river appears wild, sometimes passing exposed bedrock and tall bluffs. The most developed areas are resorts and cabins at Vermilion and Crane lakes and the town of Buyck. With few accesses and numerous rapids, this river is best for experienced paddlers.

The Vermilion River gets much of its flow from Vermilion Lake, so it rises and falls slowly. It is usually canoeable well into autumn. Most rapids are runnable if the U.S. Geological Survey gauge below the Vermilion Dam reads above four feet. The middle and lower rapids may be runnable below four feet if heavy rains have swollen the river's tributaries. Quiet sections of the river are runnable below four feet.

There are portages at Vermilion Dam, Shively Falls, Everett Rapids, Table Rock Falls, Belgium Fred's Rapids, DeCaigny Rapids, Chipmunk Falls, High Falls, the Chute and the Gorge. Some of these portages are long, but all are well worn.

Hazards include a dam and Class I-VI rapids. Know where portage locations are.

Recommended day trip

There are many trip options. Certain sections of this river should only be attempted by experienced paddlers.

  • Put-in location: Twomile Creek access, river mile 37.8
  • Take-out location: Eightmile Creek access, river mile 32
  • Length: 7 river miles

Enjoy a wide, easy stretch of river with no rapids. You'll be surrounded by forests and boglands. Start by paddling downstream on Twomile Creek, then go six miles downriver on the Vermilion RIver. To reach the takeout, paddle up Eightmile Creek (river left). Those looking for rapids can find them by extending this route up or downriver.

Explore on shore

Kabetogama State Forest

The river is nearly completely encompassed within this forest. You'll find several hiking trails, fishing spots, bird watching, picnic areas and camping opportunities. Check regulations for dispersed camping options.

Superior National Forest

Established in 1909, this forest is known for its boreal ecosystem, numerous clean lakes, and a colorful cultural history. Popular recreational activities include fishing, hunting, camping, canoeing, swimming and hiking. Check regulations for dispersed camping options.

Local contacts

DNR northeast headquarters
1201 East Highway Two, Grand Rapids, MN 55744

Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN 55808

Nearest medical facilities

Cook Hospital
10 SE Fifth Street, Cook, MN 55723

Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital
328 West Conan Street, Ely, MN 55731

Rapids along the Vermilion River
Rapids along the Vermilion River.


Canoes on the forested riverbank
Canoes at the forested riverbank.


Vermilion River area map

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