Postcards from the Plateau - Pumpkin Springs

One of the most interesting springs on the Plateau would have to be Pumpkin Springs in the Grand Canyon at River Mile 212.9 on the Hualapai Nation. Named for its round, gourd like appearance, the spring waters within are not considered to be safe. Lead, zinc, copper, and very high levels of arsenic can all be found within, before it empties itself into the swift Colorado River.

A great paper titled Dissected hydrologic system at the Grand Canyon: Interaction between deeply derived fluids and plateau aquifer waters in modern springs and travertine by Laura J. Crossey, et al, discusses what the noble gases bubbling out with the CO2 here tell us about tectonic connections to this special place.

Since this spring is so unique, it often attracts folks floating down the river straight to it, and it truly is a wonderful sight as long as you only look, but don't touch. In the 2012 report titled Evaluating Hualapai Cultural Resources Along the Colorado River there is mention of the Spring being damaged by boaters jumping off it into the river. From the report: 'Visitation continues to be high at Pumpkin Springs with negative impacts to the Pumpkin as evidenced above with standing and jumping. Spiritual impacts for Hualapai are significant in this regard.' For Hualapai Elders, as quoted from the report, “springs were and still are sacred today. You don’t just go to a spring and drink water. You have to pray first. That water is there for a purpose…The purity of the springs is sacred. The use of the water is sacred…It was life-giving…”.

Further in the report mentioned above, Hualapai Elders said during a 1993 river trip, that Pumpkin Springs was regarded as “…a significant sacred site, utilized for medicinal purposes. The Hualapai people would travel many miles to be healed by this sulfuric water…”

So if you are lucky enough to get to see the spring, just remember that it is a sacred site, and also an extremely delicate site, and hopefully it will be protected for years to come.