The national park lies approximately 100 km south of La Serena on the Pacific Ocean, as well as approximately 30 km to the west of Ovalle. It lies close to the Atacama Desert, in the Cordillera de Talinay, which is part of the Chilean Coastal Range. On the south, the park is bordered by the Limarí River.
The park covers an area of 100 km², but the forests cover only 4% of its surface. The national park is known for having the northernmost Valdivian temperate rain forests. The coastal fog (Spanish: Camanchaca) hangs on the mountain-slopes and moistens subtropical vegetation, allowing the hydrophilic forests to survive despite being surrounded by semiarid scrublands, with average annual rainfall of approximately 113 mm.  The forest is a vestigial survival of the last glacial period.
Typical plants of the national park include:
- Peruvian pepper Schinus latifolius
- Azara celastrina
- Lithraea venenosa
- Porlieria chilensis
- Olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum)
- Epiphytes include: Sarmienta scandens and Griselinia scandens .