Riffelsee Lake, the Matterhorn’s mirror image
“Whoever sees the lake falls in love with it!” Embedded in a rocky landscape and bounded by fluffy cotton grass below and snow-capped 4-thousanders above it gleams magically – the Riffelsee lake.
The Riffelsee lake is famous for its perfect reflection of the Matterhorn. The bluey-green mountain lake is 2,770 metres above sea level in the middle of a conservation area. 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. The Riffelsee lake is a real highlight and an absolute ‘must see’, and if there is no wind, we guarantee you the PERFECT photo of the Matterhorn, reflected in its surface.
Getting there – how do I find 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.
The footpath to the Riffelsee lake is easy to do and not at all demanding. We recommend hikers to continue along the Riffelsee lake path and up to Riffelberg station. Apart from the pleasure of seeing the lake the remainder of the hike gives great views across an amazing mountain panorama including the Matterhorn. You will pass the little Riffelberg chapel where Brother Klaus once lived and which is also a good place to stop and take some photos. From Riffelberg station you can then choose to take the historic Mark Twain path up to Riffelalp.
- Rotenboden – Riffelsee – Riffelalp; ca 30 mins
- Rotenboden – Riffelsee – Riffelberg – Riffelalp; ca. 1h 10 mins
Sunrise over the Riffelsee lake
The sunrise is an unforgettable moment when the clear surface of the Riffelsee lake reflects the orange-tinted peak of the Matterhorn. A natural play of blue, violet and orange and an everlasting impression of beauty.
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.
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.
Riffelsee insider tip
Not many people know that not far from the famous Riffelsee lake in the direction of the Riffelberg there is small, nameless lake which is seldom discovered by tourists and is the ideal spot to take peaceful photos of a reflected Matterhorn.