Just a short drive (or walk) westwards from Banff are the beautiful Vermilion Lakes. This area is made up of three lakes in the Bow River valley, all of which are separated by wetlands. Tracing the outline of the lakes is a scenic 4.3km road with a number of picturesque little jetties and benches to rest, relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery that the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Vermilion Lakes boasts one of my favourite views of all time - that of Tunnel Mountain and Mount Rundle standing majestically side-by-side (see last photo).
In the winter, the water freezes over making it possible to walk and even ice skate on the lake. In the summer, you'll often see cyclists, hikers, dog-walkers and joggers on the path whilst kayaks and canoes enable water-bound exploration. A wealth of wildlife can be sighted at the lakes also: a multitude of birds, elk, coyotes and even the odd bear if you're lucky.
The prettiest route to the lakes is through the forest that borders Banff: follow the Fenlands Trail and it'll take you there.