A novel of one of the most treacherous river expeditions ever undertaken, THE LAST CANYON takes us deep into the heart of the elements, portraying in vivid detail the human quest to understand nature at all costs. In 1869 a one-armed Civil War hero named John Wesley Powell launched four boats on the Green River in Wyoming Territory, undertaking what would be the last major voyage of discovery in American history, through the country's only remaining terra incognita: the remote and barren course of the Colorado River.
At the outset of his journey, Powell believed the inaccessible canyons of the Colorado were uninhabited. He was wrong. What he called "the great unknown" was in fact well known by a band of Paiute Indians who had lived on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for centuries. In John Vernon's hands, the story of Powell's voyage of exploration is two converging stories: that of Powell and his crew, and that of a family of Paiute making their own harrowing circuit of the Grand Canyon in an attempt to rescue a kidnapped girl. Told in alternating chapters, THE LAST CANYON deftly leads us into perilous geographical and emotional territory, culminating in Powell's struggle to finish his voyage with only two boats, not four, and five men out of the original nine.
Powell's adventure is a story of triumph, hardship, bravery, and ultimate tragedy. THE LAST CANYON traces simultaneously a voyage of discovery and a chronicle of loss, an exploration of both unknown land and the unplumbed human spirit.