After losing his river-running mother to cancer, author and paddler Zak Podmore disappears into the American West’s iconic canyon country to heal. What he finds is a wilderness infused with personal stories, as well as a landscape strained by political, environmental, and cultural tensions. A trip down the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park leads to a confrontation with US immigration policy. While canoeing down a rare release of water in the Colorado River delta, Podmore questions the economic foundations of Western water management. He reports on uranium tailings near the San Juan River, dam removals on Washington’s Elwha River, and a tourist development in the Grand Canyon. Moving and provocative, CONFLUENCE follows in the tradition of Thoreau or Edward Abbey — it takes us into the wild but always has one eye turned back toward the blessings and ills of civilization.