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 home 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.

Understanding Where Natural Spring Water Comes From


A natural spring is essentially a point where groundwater emerges naturally to the earth’s surface. This occurrence can craft a serene spring house or a vibrant gushing source, both offering renewed vitality. As we delve deeper, it’s crucial to acknowledge the integral role that the soil plays in this process. The ground acts as a natural filter, through which water traverses, enriching it with minerals and making spring water a sought-after resource.

The journey of spring water begins with precipitation that infiltrates the soil, seeping through porous rock layers deep beneath the ground. Over time, water collects and forms groundwater, which is a vital contributor to natural springs.

The surface itself doesn’t reveal the complex hydrogeological structures beneath, but understanding these layers is key to finding water sources. As water moves through the soil, it dissolves minerals, which are what give natural spring water its unique taste and purported health benefits.

Interestingly, the flow of spring water can be influenced by the seasons. In months like June and November, depending on geographical location, spring water levels can fluctuate. Seasonal changes impact how water traverses through the ground and surfaces. Whether you’re sipping on water in the spring house or collecting it directly from a source, the time of year can affect its abundance and quality. A thorough knowledge of these cyclical patterns is invaluable when seeking out a natural spring.

Knowing the topography and natural indicators of water is essential. Following our previous section on locating natural spring water using topographical maps, one must keep an eye out for terrain that suggests the presence of groundwater close to the surface. An understanding of the landscape, such as valleys where water might collect or slopes where water naturally flows down, can be instrumental in finding a water source. Springs often emerge where water cannot remain underground any longer, due to impermeable rock or high pressure, and so it flows out to the surface.

Success in finding a natural spring is a combination of science and practical knowledge. The path water takes from where it falls as rain to where it emerges as spring water is complex, involving both the soil and the underlying rock structures.  Those in search of water sources must become familiar with the land and its signs, connecting the dots from groundwater to the silence of a spring house or the lively trickle of a spring source.

In conclusion, the search for a natural spring involves not just an understanding of the ground beneath our feet but also the recognition of the journey that water undertakes. It’s a refined art that marries nature’s subtle hints with technical know-how, enabling one to find an essential source of pure, refreshing water.


What to Look For: Finding Natural Spring


f you suspect you have an underground spring, grab a shovel and start investigating. Look for wet spots and use your shovel to remove a small amount of the muddy soil. Watch to see if water seeps back into that spot. If it does, that’s a surefire sign you have an underground spring.

Watching animal and insect activity is another good way to find a spring. They tend to converge on sources of water. Be careful when you investigate: It’s a favorite habitat for snakes.

One last thing you can do is to check to see if you have any pipes in the area that may be leaking and causing the unexplained water source. If you can rule that out, you probably have 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 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 more 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.

Locating Natural Spring Using Topographical Maps


Topographical maps are essential tools for understanding and navigating the Earth’s surface. These maps represent the three-dimensional features of a landscape in a two-dimensional format,  using contour lines to depict elevation changes. Understanding contour lines allows users to visualize terrain characteristics, such as mountains, valleys, and slopes.

The maps also include a legend or key that explains symbols and colors used to represent various features, aiding in interpretation. Whether for hiking, camping, or scientific research, using topographical maps enhances navigation and provides valuable insights into the geographical layout of an area.

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.

Topographical maps are detailed representations of a region’s surface features, showing elevations, contours, rivers, and other geographical elements.

Here are some key points and features you’ll find using topographical maps:

  1. Contour Lines: Show elevation changes.
  2. Scale: Indicates distance accurately.
  3. Legend/Key: Explains map symbols.
  4. Orientation: Identifies north direction.
  5. Grid Systems: Provides coordinates for location.

Remember, practice using topographical maps in various environments to enhance your skills in navigation and interpretation.

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  Natural Springs


artesian springs diagram
Artesian Spring Diagram

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


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.

4 Protected gravity spring | Download Scientific Diagram
Gravity Spring Diagram

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

  1. Artisanal Springs: Emerge from fractures or faults in the Earth’s crust, often in mountainous regions.
  2. Limestone Springs: Form in limestone-rich areas, where water dissolves the rock, creating underground conduits.
  3. Fault Springs: Occur along fault lines, where movement creates openings for water to surface.
  4. Cold Springs: Emit water at a temperature similar to the local mean annual air temperature.
  5. Hot Springs: Release water significantly warmer than the ambient temperature, often associated with geothermal activity.
  6. Karst Springs: Develop karst landscapes, featuring distinctive surface and subsurface drainage features.
  7. Intermittent Springs: Flow periodically, often due to varying aquifer recharge rates.
  8. Fissure Springs: Result from water emerging through fissures or cracks in rocks.

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


Spring water originates from underground sources where water naturally flows to the surface of the Earth. It begins as precipitation, such as rain or snow, which seeps into the ground through porous layers of soil and rock. As it moves through these layers, it gets filtered and purified, picking up minerals along the way.

Eventually, the water reaches a point where it emerges naturally from the ground, creating a spring. This water is typically collected directly from the spring or a borehole drilled into the underground source, and it is often considered to be of high quality due to its natural filtration process.

Spring water originates from underground aquifers, which are porous rock formations capable of holding and transmitting water. As precipitation, such as rain or snow, permeates the ground, it slowly infiltrates into the soil and rock layers.

The water then accumulates within these underground reservoirs, becoming groundwater. Springs occur when the pressure from the accumulated groundwater forces the water to flow naturally to the surface. The purity of spring water is often attributed to the natural filtration provided by the surrounding geological formations, making it a desirable source of clean and fresh water.

Water in Springs generally originates 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 home 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.

  1. Precipitation: Spring water originates from rainfall or snowfall, which is the primary source of all freshwater on Earth.
  2. Infiltration: When precipitation falls, it percolates into the ground through soil, gravel, and rock layers. This process is known as infiltration.
  3. Aquifers: The infiltrated water collects in underground reservoirs called aquifers. Aquifers are typically made of porous rock, such as sandstone or limestone, which can hold and transmit water.
  4. Geological Features: Springs often occur where aquifers intersect the Earth’s surface. This can happen naturally due to geological features like faults, fractures, or folds in the rock layers, allowing water to flow upward.
  5. Pressure and Gravity: Water in aquifers is under pressure due to the weight of the overlying soil and rock layers. When the pressure is sufficient and the aquifer intersects the surface, the water flows out naturally due to the force of gravity, forming a spring.
  6. Natural Filtration: As water travels through the soil and rock layers of the aquifer, it undergoes natural filtration. This process removes impurities and pollutants, resulting in clean and pure water.
  7. Mineral Content: Spring water often contains minerals dissolved from the rocks it passes through. These minerals contribute to the unique taste and composition of each spring water source.
  8. Human Interaction: While many springs flow freely without human intervention, some springs are tapped or captured for commercial or domestic use. In these cases, wells or boreholes are drilled into the aquifer to extract the water.
  9. Protection and Preservation: To maintain the quality and sustainability of spring water sources, it’s important to protect the surrounding environment from pollution and overuse. Conservation efforts help ensure that spring water remains a valuable natural resource for future generations.

It is 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 Find a Natural Spring on Your Property


When in search of a spring, it’s critical to understand the various signs of spring water’s emergence. One primary indication is the presence of lush vegetation in an otherwise dry area, which may signal a spring box nearby. Once you’ve located a potential site, confirm that the water is indeed emanating from a spring rather than surface runoff, which may be contaminated.

Constructing a spring box is an effective way to collect the water from your natural spring and protect it from contaminants. A spring box, typically constructed from concrete or food-grade materials, captures and stores the spring water while preventing pollution. If your goal is to create a more permanent setup, a spring house—essentially a small building or structure erected over the natural spring—can offer a shaded and secure shelter for your water source, maintaining its cleanliness and cool temperature.

The taste and purity of the spring water can be exceptional, but it’s crucial to test the water before consuming it to ensure its safety. Various water testing kits are available that allow you to quickly evaluate your water source for common contaminants. But don’t just rely on one test; it’s best to return to the same spring multiple times, running tests to confirm the water’s quality before you decide to rely on it as a drinking source. This consistent testing can give you the confidence you need to share your discovery with others who may also benefit from the natural spring.

Water sourcing using topographical maps can help you locate springs that may not be immediately visible, as these maps denote waterways and other features that suggest the presence of spring water. Springs are often found in hilly or mountainous terrain where water naturally emerges from the ground. Pay attention to contours and other indicators that may reveal a spring hidden from the eye at first glance.

Remember, when you’ve accessed a natural spring, consider the existing ecosystem. Always tap a spring in a manner that won’t disrupt the local water table or the flora and fauna that rely on it. Moreover, installing a proper spring box or building a spring house can ensure that you preserve the integrity and sustainability of the spring for future use.

Finding and tapping a natural spring requires patience, diligence, and respect for nature.

Tapping into a natural spring can be a rewarding way to access fresh water. Here are some more practical tips for finding and tapping a natural spring:

Locate Potential Springs:

  • Look for signs of surface water, such as wet ground, lush vegetation, or moss.
  • Springs are often found at the base of hills or mountains.

Use Topographic Maps:

  • Topographic maps can help identify potential spring locations, as they show elevation changes and terrain features.

Observe Animal Behavior:

  • Animals often gather around water sources. Observe wildlife patterns, as they can lead you to potential spring locations.

Consult Local Residents:

  • Speak to locals who may know of natural springs in the area. They can provide valuable insights.

Test Water Purity:

  • Before tapping into a spring, test the water for purity. You can use water testing kits to check for contaminants.

Consider Legalities:

  • Ensure that you have the legal right to access and use the spring water. Check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits.

Use Gravity Flow:

  • If possible, design your system to use gravity flow. This minimizes the need for pumps and reduces energy consumption.

Install a Collection System:

  • Set up a system to collect water from the spring. This may involve digging a channel or creating a collection point.

Protect the Source:

  • Take measures to protect the spring and its surrounding environment. Avoid activities that could contaminate the water source.

Regular Maintenance:

  • Regularly inspect and maintain your tapping system. This ensures a continuous and reliable water supply.

Emergency Backup:

  • Have a backup water source or purification method in case the spring water becomes temporarily unavailable or compromised.

Community Collaboration:

  • Consider collaborating with the local community if the spring is a shared resource. Establish clear agreements to ensure sustainable use.

Remember, it’s essential to approach tapping into natural springs with respect for the environment and adherence to legal regulations.



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. If you are looking for a 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 home supply for off-grid survival or landowners.

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


USGSUnited States Geological Survey

Minnesota Dept. Health-Commonly asked questions about Springs


Q: Why are natural springs preferable to surface water sources?
A: Natural springs are preferable because they are typically less contaminated and richer in minerals. Water from springs has been naturally filtered through the soil, providing a cleaner and safer option for drinking. However, it’s important to purify any water found before consumption.
Q: What role does the soil play in the formation of a natural spring?
A: Soil acts as a natural filter for precipitation as it seeps through and dissolves minerals, contributing to the mineral content and taste of spring water. Understanding the soil and the underlying geological structures is crucial for locating natural springs.
Q: What are some indicators of a natural spring’s presence when exploring the wilderness?
A: Look for signs like lush vegetation in a dry area, which may signal a spring nearby. Terrain features like valleys or slopes, changes in plant life, and the presence of wildlife can also hint at groundwater close to the surface.
Q: How can you ensure the safety and quality of spring water for everyday use?
A: Regularly test the water for contaminants using water testing kits, and confirm its quality over multiple visits before relying on it as a drinking source. When tapping a spring for consistent use, consider the legal implications and environmental impact.



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