It ranges in altitude from 800 to 1230m above sea level. Geographically, it is located in Samburu County.
In the middle of the reserve, the Ewaso Ng'iro flows through doum palm groves and thick riverine forests. It provides water, without which the game in this arid region could not survive.
The Samburu National Reserve was one of the two areas in which conservationists George and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the Lioness, made famous in the best-selling book and award-winning movie Born Free. The Elephant Watch Camp, of which Saba Douglas-Hamilton is director, lies within the park.
The Samburu National Reserve is also the home of Kamunyak, a lioness famous for adopting oryx calves.