A party led by explorer F.T. Gregory explored the area in 1861. He named the Hamersley Range, on which the park is centred, after his friend Edward Hamersley.
The park is located in the Pilbara region, and is mostly tropicalsemi-arid climate. In summer, thunderstorms and cyclones are common, bringing 250–350 mm of rain annually. Temperatures on summer days frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius, while winter nights can bring frost.
Several gorges that flow north out of the park—including Dales, Kalamina, Wittenoom and Yampire Gorges—provide notable displays of the rock layers:
Hamersley Gorge is located in the northwestern region of the park, while Range Gorge is in the north, Munjina Gorge is in the east, and Hancock, Joffre, Knox, Red and Weano Gorges converge in the park's center.
While the park is fully open to the public, visitors are warned to exercise due caution when walking in and around the vicinity of Yampire and Wittenoom Gorges near the northern boundary of the park due to the presence of blue asbestos—a known cancer-causing agent when inhaled—which occurs in a number of the rock formations.
^"Karijini National Park Visitor guide"(PDF). Explore Parks WA (note: PDF file link appears in "Downloads & Resources" tab of webpage: parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/park/karijini). Department of Parks and Wildlife. 2016. Archived(PDF) from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
Padgett, Allan (1991) Karijini National Park – description of some of the more remote gorges. Landscope, Vol. 7, no. 1 (Spring 1991), pp. 16–21