Cotton grass at Riffelsee Lake with Matterhorn in the background

Riffelsee lake

When the wind is still the Matterhorn is reflected perfectly on the surface of the lake.

The Riffelsee lake should be on every Zermatt visitor’s bucket list.  The flawless inverted mirror-image is reflected on the unruffled lake’s surface.  Not surprisingly, many smartphones use this image as wallpaper.  The most beautiful photos can be taken at dawn or dusk;  in the early morning or towards evening the wind slackens and the reflection becomes very clear. 

It’s only about 10 minutes on foot away from Rotenboden station.  Behind the Riffelsee lake is a second, somewhat smaller lake that sees fewer visitors.  The banks of this lake are ideal for a short break or a picnic.  

Map Gornergrat Winter

How do I get to the Riffelsee lake?

Take the Gornergrat railway directly from Zermatt to Rotenboden station, the second to last before Gornergrat itself. At Rotenboden take the "Riffelsee hiking path" and with a ten-minute walk you will be there. The short path downwards is not difficult and requires no special walking experience or equipment.

Please do not leave the marked path out of respect for the flora and fauna in this conservation area. After visiting the lake, you can either continue hiking to Riffelberg or return to Rotenboden station.

Hiking trails to the Riffelsee lake

Various hiking routes go past the Riffelsee lake and can be combined in many ways.  The Gornergrat  railway serves various stations on its way and so, when your legs are tired, you can always find a train to take you back to Zermatt.

Hikes that pass the Riffelsee lake

Sunrise at the Riffelsee lake

Would you like to see a sunrise in the mountains once? It will be an unforgettable moment when you watch a sunrise above the Riffelsee lake. The lake’s surface, as clear as glass, reflects the bright, orange sun as it touches the summit of the Matterhorn. Watching it in the lake is a colourful display of violets and oranges – a sight you will never forget.

Paradise for nature lovers

For plant lovers the area is a unique spot for finding rare plants which, thanks to their sheltered location, reach record heights. The lake itself is just about 100m long and 50m wide and right next to the Riffelhorn mountain – a popular climb for mountaineers and often used as a practice tour before attempting the Matterhorn itself.

Riffelsee lake in winter

In winter the lake is covered in snow but snow-free from the beginning of July to the end of October, when it can be seen in all its famous glory. As the first big snowfalls come the lake freezes over and disappears into its well-earned winter hibernation.

In winter, a snowshoe trail leads past the snow-covered and frozen Riffelsee lake.

People snowshoing at the Gornergrat with the Matterhorn in the background
Panorama Trail (No. 142)

Snowshoe tour from Rotenboden to Riffelberg

More Information

Camping at the Riffelsee lake

Spending the night or lighting a fire around the Riffelsee is not permitted as it is in a conservation area. Please do not leave the marked footpaths.

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