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 covers 39,271 acres and contains 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 southeastern 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.