How to Find a Natural Spring

Sometimes the easiest solution in nature could be right in front of us much like when we are looking for a natural water source in the wilderness or a plot of land there are signs and clues that a good source of clean water could be located right under our feet if we know what to look for. How do you find a natural spring?


  • Look for Springs in hilly, higher places
  • Areas of lusher Brush/grass
  • Wet muddy spots
  • Signs of worms, snakes, insects, or birds
  • Melt spots in the snow
  • Look for water coming out of the ground and flowing away from the spot where it emerges.
  • Use Dowsing Rods
  • Dig a small hole and see how long it takes to fill.


The attraction of water from a Spring is that it’s often water that has moved to the surface from some type of pure underground water source. This is a secret exotic place where the water spring is pristine and untouched by humans. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case but Springwater can still be clean, natural, and best of all free potable water supply for off-grid survival or landowners.


How to Find a Natural Spring


A Spring is a place where water moving underground finds an opening to the land surface and emerges, sometimes as just a trickle, maybe only after a rain, and sometimes in a continuous flow.  According to the USGS

A Spring is a water resource formed when the side of a hill, a valley bottom intersects a flowing body of groundwater at or just below the local water table, below where the surface is saturated with water. A Spring is the result of an aquifer being filled to the point that the water overflows onto the land surface.

They range in size from small seeps, which flow only after a good amount of rain to large pools capable of flowing hundreds of millions of gallons daily. The  USGS has an interactive map that can locate Springs and other water sources if they are listed in their database.


Searching for a Natural Spring


If you find a spot in a smaller creek that doesn’t freeze, you probably have spring water coming into the creek. (Spring water is usually the same temperature year-round.) Look for clues about where remnants of an old spring house used to be. A Spring box is located near where water comes out of the ground on your property and flows away from the spot where it emerges.

A very active spring will have water running downhill away from the source. These streams are called spring branches. Most springs appear in places where there is higher ground above them. 

  • Walk the area looking for spots where the brush, grass, etc are naturally lusher than other areas.
  • Look for moving water (Even trickles) where you wouldn’t expect it
  • Most springs appear in places where there is hilly, higher ground above them. Mostly keep an eye out and identify any place that seems wetter than it has normal cause to be.
  • Look at the ground for worms, garden snakes, and other invertebrate species. Worms love moisture, as do snakes. Try and determine where a constant source of water is found
  • In damp weather, (Not wet!), look for where your foot tells you it is muddy. Here where the ground freezes, look for where the grass crunches when you step on it (Cause the water table is higher).
  • Dig a small hole and see how long it takes to fill.
  • Search for a spring using Dowsing rods can work. It also may be a long way down to the water and would require a pump to bring it to the surface.
  • If the ground is covered in snow look for melt spots in the snow. A good sign of leaching water keeping the ground from freezing.


Using a Topographical Maps


Use a topographical map or personally survey the land to determine points where a natural spring may emerge. Springs are naturally occurring sources of water that originate underground and flow to the surface. Spring water may emerge from the ground at a specific point or seep from a large area through the soil.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s thermal springs map displays the location and temperature of thermal springs throughout the U.S. The hot springs shown on the map are color-coded based on recorded temperature.

Users can click on individual hot spring locations to find the hot spring name, location, and most recently recorded temperature. NOAA-Thermal Springs in the U.S.   


Types of Springs


A Natural Spring is classified into different rock types where the Spring occurs:

artesian springs diagram
                         Artesian Spring Diagram

Artesian Spring –Occurs when the groundwater, under pressure, finds its way to the land surface

Gravity Spring -formed by water soaking into the ground until the water encounters a confining layer that will not let the water seep further down flowing across this layer until reaching the surface.

gravity springs diagram
                                        Gravity Spring Diagram

Perennial Spring-Drain a large land surface area and flow continuously throughout the year.

Intermittent Spring-Flow only during certain times of the year when rainfall or snowmelt is sufficient to recharge the soil and groundwater.

Tubular Spring-Are most commonly associated with limestone channels and caverns, and volcanic lava tubes contained in caves or cavities

Seepage Spring-formed when groundwater slowly seeps out of the ground. Seepage springs usually occur in sand, gravel, or organic materials and generally are found in depressions or valley bottoms.

Thermal Spring-Are springs that release groundwater warmer in temperature than groundwater in the surrounding watershed area


What is a Natural Spring?

A Spring is a place where H2O moving underground finds an opening to the surface & emerges, as a trickle, after a rain, or continuous flow when the H2O table reaches above the surface level & is classified by the volume of the H2O they discharge.

Types of Springs:

  1. Perennial
  2. Intermittent
  3. Periodic .……………………………………………………………………… Read more


Where Does Spring Water Come From


Water in Springs generally originated from rainfall. soaked into the soil and percolated into underlying rocks. Permeable rocks (those containing interconnected pore spaces through which water can move through), such as limestone and sandstone, store and transmit water and are called Aquifers.

Sometimes water underground is encapsulated in clay or shale and could be under a natural pressure that keeps the water rising to the surface. This is called an Artesian Well.

Natural springs can become contaminated because of toxins that leach into the soil. It is recommended that you test any spring water before use. If you plan to locate a natural spring and use the water as an emergency backup then using collection tanks would be ideal and gravity would suffice in most cases. If you wanted to use it as your only source then you would need a pumping system to get the water to all user points inside the home. You may also need a filtration and purification system along with a water-softening system as well.

Its always recommended that water sources be tested periodically for common sources of contamination are septic systems, barnyards, fertilizer and pesticides, chemical or petroleum leaks, and old dumps and landfills.



How to Cap a Natural Spring?

Natural Spring Capping involves clearing the area & diverting the spring water source from disruption, animals, and contamination in the area immediately above & around the spring needed to be isolated and in many cases walled off to protect it from trampling, ……………………………………………………….. Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor



Reference: USGSUnited States Geological Survey

Minnesota Dept. Health-Commonly asked questions about Springs


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