Thanks for all the helpful suggestions. This is where I'm at now. I contacted a Zion guide company for some direction:
Hello. The near record-breaking snow here in Northern Minnesota has me having to make last minute plans regarding my thru hike of the Superior Hiking Trail from May 3rd until about.....maybe three weeks later. I think I need to head SW for my May hiking/backpacking adventure. This has led me to your company.
I am looking to do multi-day backcountry hiking of Zion, but I do not know what the logistics would be. I would even be happy to do base-camping with several hours of out & back hiking to get myself in shape prior to taking on some of the more strenuous multi-day hikes. I have all the gear a person needs, but no experience hiking canyons or through deserts.
Would it be possible to get backcountry permits at this late juncture? How about the ability to set up a base camp within, or very near the park? I will have an AWD vehicle, though it's a sedan. Would your company be able to create an itinerary for me that would satisfy what I'm asking for here? If so, I would like part of that itinerary to include the guided Needles hike.
I'm very open to suggestions, as I know very little about the region. I do have quite a lot of backpacking experience, however. This being the case, I am aware that EVERY ounce in my pack adds up quickly and I've accumulated the gear that allows me to hike without carrying too much weight. This being said, I recognize the amount of water I'd have to carry during a backcountry hike through the SW is much more than I am used to, but I'd manage.