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 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 is pristine and untouched by humans. Unfortunatley this isn’t always the case but Springwater can still be a clean, natural, and best of all free potable water supply for off-grid or landowners.


What is a 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.


Finding a 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 water coming out of the ground and flowing 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 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 for 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. Areas, 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.
  • 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.


Water Purification Methods



Types of Springs

Springs are classified into different rock types where the Spring occurs:

artesian springs diagram
                         Artesian Spring Diagram

Artesian-Occur when the groundwater, under pressure, finds its way to the land surface

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

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

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

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

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


For certain types of outdoor dogs like a Lab, it just doesn’t matter what they drink. When they’re hot and thirsty, they’re jumping in and drinking it up. Dogs need protection against contaminated water like humans do, even if the water looks clean. Read my article here on MyWaterEarth&Sky called  How to Keep Your Dog From Water-Borne Diseases


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 use the spring 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.





Crystal clear water, running through a stream or river, does get cleaned a bit by natural processes flowing over rocks, vegetation, and other natural filters. But, if your drinking water may be just downstream of any unknown water source, it could very well be contaminated by humans or animals and what may seem to be very clean and pristine may not be. Read our article called How do you tell if water is safe to drink in the wild?



JimGalloway Author/Editor



Reference: USGSUnited States Geological Survey

Minnesota Dept. Health-Commonly asked questions about Springs








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