The national park lies in the south-central area of Mindoro covering parts of the municipalities of Sablayan, Calintaan, Rizal and San Jose in Occidental Mindoro, and the municipalities of Bongabong and Mansalay in Oriental Mindoro. It is crossed by eight major river systems and has a rugged terrain composed of slopes, river gorges and plateaus. In the park's northern portion, Mount Baco rises to an elevation of 2,488 metres (8,163 ft) above sea level. Mount Iglit reaches 2,364 metres (7,756 ft) and can be found south of Mount Baco.
The park is the habitat of the endemic tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), a small, hoofed mammal of the bovid family unique to the Philippines. It is one of the most seriously endangered animals in the world. It was for this reason that the park was established, first as a game refuge and bird sanctuary in 1969 with an initial area of 8,956 hectares, then as a national park increasing its size a year later.