Where does Sabino Creek originate?

Streamflow must originate somewhere. Sabino Creek is fed by summer monsoon rains and winter snowmelt. A fraction of this snowmelt and rainwater flows over the rocky surfaces of the canyon as overland flow, the flow that is visible to visitors of the canyon.

What visitors cannot see is the remaining portion of the monsoon rain and snowmelt that has infiltrated or seeped into the soil and is moving along underground, called subsurface flow. Both overland flow and subsurface flow are drawn downward by gravity. Overland flows move much faster and drain toward the basin outlet.

As smaller channels combine, the flow becomes greater and greater, forming Sabino Creek. A portion of the subsurface flow eventually resurfaces further down the canyon as springs that contribute to the flow of Sabino Creek.

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