The Vermilion River watershed includes a portion of the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness near Big Trout Lake. The BWCAW is roadless, undeveloped country that is interconnected with lakes, rivers and portages. Lake Vermillion itself is a unique lake, covering 39,271 acres and containing 365 islands. Its lakeshore features many cabins, homes, resorts and a casino. Recreation tourism is a prime economic driver; others include the forest industry, mining, and some farming.
Land on Lake Vermilion’s southeast shores was purchased in 2010 for $18 million by the state of Minnesota from U.S. Steel. The land is Minnesota’s newest state park.