For an early season desert alternative to Southern Utah pick up some maps of Western Idaho and check out the Owahee and its tributaries. There are many possibilities in here for loops and hike-float-hike floats. The South Fork, Middke Fork, Deep Creek, etc.,. The rivers are characterized by pool and drops and generally it is easy to portage anything you don’t like.
Two years ago we ran Deep Creek. Our time got cut short from getting stuck in the mud while doing our car shuttle. You can see the pictures at http://www2.snapfish.com/thumbnailshare/AlbumID=41759912/a=25662137_8756885/t_=25662137