Yeah, the Dolores. Been too long for me to remember specific hikes but I do remember Coyote Wash near the end of the trip Bruce mentions.
When we were on the San Juan, launched one month ago based on the moon cycle just passing, we hiked a fair amount. River House is outstanding, of course. So dramatic.
Chinle was awesome. We actually did a lay over there so we could recover from the effort to get us all on the rio and to give us more time for hiking. As it turned out it was hot and we had small kids with us so we didn't get near as far in as I'd hoped. I'd done some homework before we went and read that the biggest cliff dwellings in Utah are up that wash. We only made it 3? miles or so and the wash goes 20+ miles before the Arizona border. We didn't find any ruins beyond the early stuff that you hiked up to, Logan. That wash goes all the way to Canyon de Chelly so I figure there is a lot to see in that 100? miles of canyon.
And, yes, I remember reading an account of a descent of Chinle that I think included a heli evac of a paddler with a dislocated shoulder. Seems to me I also read that you want huge water at the putin to still have flow by the end.
There are a lot of nice hikes on the San Juan though once you enter the Goosenecks there are surprisingly few that go very far before cliffing out. John's and Grand Gulch are both nice but hard to get up and I think the ruins in Grand Gulch are out of reach from the rio in part because you need a permit to hike more than a mile from the rio. Slickhorn and Oljeto are both outstanding but you need a permit to camp there and a layover day is not possible to get. We hiked both on this last trip and all I wanted to do was keep going/exploring but time turned us back.
The Escalante seems like the Holy Grail. At the very top of my to do list. Here's a shot of the Coyote Gulch/Escalante confluence. I hiked this on a recon last winter. The shot is taken from the rim where the hike out tops out.
Coyote Gulch | Wild Backpacker
Over nighted in Brown's Canyon this fall. We camped just below Big Drop on rio left. There is an outstanding hike up to some really nice vert granite faces. We called the one we hiked to Mini Half Dome. Don't know the name of the wash. It is just upstream of Green Gulch on the maps. Also hiked up a shorter wash on rio right immediately below Big Drop. Half a mile and then a little scrambling off wash left took us to some high ground that looked across to Mt. Princeton. Fantastic view of the Collegiates. We watched an amazing lightning storm cross the valley from Chalk Cliffs until it was on us. Our conversation as we watched it get closer; Larry, "I'm not scared." Phil, "I'm not scared either. Let's just stay here." Lightening strike within a hundred yards... Phil and Larry are running scared off the high ground and down the wash as the side washes start to run.
Its not a side hike but one of my fave hikes is the portage around the mank slot on Number 5 at ELF levels cuz it means I'm getting out on one of my fave runs.