The Maverick Canyon unit contains several side canyons of the Dolores River: Maverick Canyon, Larson Canyon, Blue Creek and others. These canyons slice into the flanks of the Uncompahgre Plateau and reveal multi-colored bands of slickrock. The red canyon walls of the Dolores River valley open to reveal a labyrinth of deep slickrock canyons and contoured benchlands lined with streaks of red and white sandstone.
These deep red sandstone canyons with numerous side canyons provide abundant opportunities for solitude and adventure.
A primary attraction in the area is Juanita Arch, located in the southern portion of the proposed wilderness area up a little off-shoot canyon from Little Maverick Canyon. There are numerous archeological sites and scattered lithic remains throughout the unit, giving Maverick Canyon historic significance.
Flora includes mountain shrublands, pinyon-juniper woodlands and semi-desert sage shrublands. The area's wildlife includes deer, elk, mountain lion and black bear. Raptors soar above the meanders of the Dolores and perch on inaccessible canyon rims. The elevation range is 5,000-7,500 feet.
The peregrine falcon has been observed in the proposed wilderness area. In addition, Maverick Canyon has been designated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife as suitable habitat for the burro owl. The unit also contains suitable habitat for the cliff chipmunk, a Colorado Natural Heritage Program imperiled species.
The pinyon-juniper mesas rising to the east of the unit were thoroughly explored during the uranium mining boom, but the canyons and benchlands below the mesa tops remain in a pristine condition and warrant wilderness designation.
The area offers dispersed recreational opportunities for hikers, backpackers, and hunters, and a sense of wildness is pervasive in these little-traveled canyons. Additionally, recreational uses include rock climbing, fishing in the Dolores River, nature study, and photography.
A year-round flow of water in Maverick Canyon provides a riparian ecosystem at its lower reaches with cottonwoods and willows in the floodplain.
The Maverick Canyon unit contains parts of several grazing allotments for commercial cattle and the area is regularly grazed.
There are no oil and gas leases in the area. The area was thoroughly explored during the uranium boom, but that activity was confined to the mesa tops above the pristine canyons.
The BLM is treating a tamarisk invasion along the Dolores River and inventorying Russian knapweed and sensitive plant species. The BLM has managed some prescribed burns, but these were outside the CWP boundaries.
The area is open to motorized use on existing roads and trails.
Maverick Canyon drains higher elevation watersheds that originate on the western flanks of the Uncompahgre Plateau.
Maverick Canyon CWP is bounded on the west by the Dolores River, although the area does not include the river itself. Private lands in Unaweep Canyon define the north boundary, and various county roads and mining roads define the eastern boundary.