Water in the San Rafael Desert is not as rare as one might think. We find many pools and water pockets in the sandstone canyons. These water sources are not on any map, but many of them are reliable all year.
One of the many small springs makes a handy place for a drink. Some of these are on maps, but many are not. Also, the maps are often inaccurate, sometimes placing a spring several miles away from the actual water source.
Water that hides in the shade of a sandstone shelf will satisy a thirsty animal.
Sometimes water can be found at the base of a cliff, a pour-off pool that gathers from melted snow and spring rain.
And of course green grass goes with water. The horses love that!
The wildflowers are just getting started in mid-April.
A claret cup cactus brightens up the rock and sand.
Milkvetch (purple) and wallflowers (yellow) bloom between the scattered juniper trees.
A Fremont's mahonia bush grows near a spring.
Here is a closer view of the yellow flowers.
This one is my favorite, a Showy Stoneseed. The lackluster name comes from the seed with an extremely hard, thick, impervious shell, which must allow survival of the species through winter cold and summer drought. I think it's the prettiest of the desert flowers.
The Indian paintbrush is a close second for color and beauty.