The national park features a diverse ecosystem that includes monsoon forests, dry monsoon forests, thorn forests, marine and freshwater wetlands, grasslands, marshes, and sandy beaches along the coast.
Yala is comprised mostly of metamorphic rock with reddish-brown and grey soil topping most of the area.
The park is located in a dry semi-arid region with rain occurring mostly during the northeast monsoon season.
There are 215 species of birds calling the area home; the area is one of 70 areas classified as important bird sanctuaries for the country of Sri Lanka. There are 44 species of mammals with some of the more popular being elephant, water buffalo, sloth bear, and leopard. Yala National Park has one of the densest populations of leopards in the world.It covers an area of 377.9 square miles (978.8 sq km).