The Park is rich in groundwater numerous springs. The elevated areas protected within Carnarvon National Park have high value for above ground catchments as well. Five major river systems rise within the Park's boundary; the Comet, Dawson, Maranoa, Nogoa, and Warrego. The Warrego and Maranoa lie inland of the Great Dividing Range on the northern boundary of the Murray-Darling Basin.
Several plants occur in disjunct populations, or reach the limits of their distribution, within the Park such as the isolated colony of Angiopteris evecta (King Fern) found in Wards Canyon, Carnarvon Gorge. Artesian springs in the Salvator Rosa section of the Park are considered amongst the most biodiverse in the state.
At least 90 species of reptiles call the Park home, over half of these are either skinks or geckoes, and 35 species have their State distributional limits here. Twenty two species of amphibians have been found in the Park, including isolated populations of Litoria fallax (eastern Sedgefrog) and Adelotus brevis (Tusked Frog).
Over ten species of fish inhabit the Parks waterways, the largest of which is Anguilla reinhardtii (long-finned eel). The Park's invertebrate fauna is thought to be extremely diverse, and at least nine species are considered to be endemic to the Carnarvon Range, including two species of dragonfly, two species of stonefly, a dobson fly and four species of land snail.
Feral animals are present within the National Park, the most serious of which are horses and pigs. In 2007, aerial culling of both species began. Such culling is a contentious issue to some members of the public , however there is little doubt that both species cause considerable alteration to the values the National Park is designed to protect. Through grazing and their patterns of movement, feral horses alter the composition of the ground cover and can acelerate erosion through over-grazing and hoof traffic. Feral pigs are thought to be responsible for the localised extinction of Australian Brush-Turkeys from some areas of the Park.
In expanding the National Park, the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service have sought to enhance the reserves catchment value and increase the diversity of regional ecosystems protected within its boundaries. The Park's regional conservation importance is significant as its 298,000 hectares represents over half the total landmass of protected areas within the Southern Brigalow Belt bioregion.
The indigenous stencil artists of Central Queensland, such as those who created sites such as the Art Gallery and Cathedral Cave in Carnarvon Gorge, are regarded by some researchers as the best in the world. It appears they developed complex stencilling techniques that have not been replicated elsewhere. Only one full adult body stencil is known to exist in the world, it can be seen publicly at the Tombs site in the Mt Moffatt section of the Park. It is the largest known stencil, and a good example of the heights to which this form of human expression was taken in Central Queensland.
Contemporary Indigenous culture in the Park is much changed from that of pre-colonial Central Queensland, however strong Indigenous links to the landscapes within Carnarvon National Park are maintained through traditional owner involvement in the protection and preservation of the Park's cultural sites.
The first European to traverse the future Park was Thomas Mitchell, in the 1840s. He named the Carnarvon Range after a location in Wales. Settlers followed in the footsteps of the explorers, lured by reports of the region's permanent water. Altercations with local Indigenous groups soon broke out and escalated into a state of mutual aggression that was maintained until the 1870s.
The remoteness of the area during early settlement attracted some interesting local characters, some of whom came to the area to avoid unwanted official scrutiny. The Ward brothers hunted fur in the Carnarvons year round at a time when there were restricted open seasons, and the Kenniff brothers (Kenniff Cave's namesakes) became notorious local horse thieves, and later murderers .
Today, tourism, recreation, and conservation are the main human activities conducted on the Park. The most popular section of Carnarvon National park is the Carnarvon Gorge section which receives an estimated 65,000 visitors per annum. Mt Moffatt is the next most visited section followed by Salvator Rosa and Ka Ka Mundi. The remaining sections of the Park receive virtually no visitation at all, and are consequently high in wilderness values.
Carnarvon National Park offers a variety of recreational activities including four wheel driving, wildlife watching, hiking along maintained tracks, and bush walking into remote areas. A ninety kilometre long trail is currently underway that will allow bush walkers to circumnavigate Carnarvon Gorge in around 5 days.