The last time Candice LaFaver spotted the purple grains of sand along the shoreline at Candle Lake Provincial Park was in 2018. That July, she and her family had taken out their boat for a leisurely summertime cruise on this freshwater lake located in northern Saskatchewan when she glanced over to a deserted stretch of beach and couldn’t believe what she saw.
Known simply as “Purple Sands Beach”, this secluded expanse of land has earned a reputation around Canada for its awe-inspiring geological feature. The grains of sand can appear in a spectrum of chromatic hues, ranging from lavender to magenta and sometimes even pink. Vivid particles can appear smeared down the shore like an artist’s brushstroke, scattered in clusters across rocks and rippled beneath the water’s surface in the lake’s shallow bays.
Seeing this natural phenomenon in person has become a pilgrimage for naturalists, geological fanatics and out-of-town visitors, who arrive year-round with hopes of catching a glimpse before it disappears underneath snowfall for much of the year or becomes washed away in the tide.