Springs and Seeps
Springs are one of the critical natural resources to Grand Canyon National Park. Spring discharge is seen as a singular response to the hydrologic character of a much larger area and an indication of the status of the supplying aquifer systems. This water provides base flow to the Colorado River, and provides drinking water to wildlife and Park visitors in an otherwise arid environment. Springs also offer refuge to endemic and exotic terrestrial wildlife species of Grand Canyon and maintain the riparian areas that are associated with this resource. Grand Canyon springs are often locations of exceptional natural beauty and many hold cultural significance to Native Americans in the region. Finally, these waters aid in the erosive process that formed the canyon itself.
Climate change and development on the Coconino Plateau has raised the awareness of environmentalists, commercial developers, and resource managers to the value of spring resources. The impact of drought and groundwater pumping on the water quantity and quality of these delicate and rare ecosystems is little known and current hydrologic models show that some flow reduction will occur at some springs with increased development.
Although springs make up less than 0.01% of Grand Canyon's landscape, 500 times more species concentrate in them than in the surrounding desert. Researchers have discovered that each spring is far more unique than expected: many contain rare species found nowhere else in the world.
When visiting seeps, springs, and streams, please stay at least 100 feet away from the water before using soaps or urinating. Human feces must be buried at least 100 feet away from any water resource.
Did You Know?
The more recent Kaibab limestone caprock, on the rims of the Grand Canyon, formed 270 million years ago. In contrast, the oldest rocks within the Inner Gorge at the bottom of Grand Canyon date to 1.84 billion years ago. Geologists currently set the age of Earth at 4.5 billion years.