The principal dales (valleys) covered by the former are Swaledale and Wensleydale, running mainly east to west and Malhamdale and Wharfedale running roughly north to south. Nidderdale, strangely, is omitted from the Park. However, there are many minor dales in addition.
Each dale has a character very much its own and regular visitors have their own favourites. The rock is mainly limestone, particularly in the so-called 'Craven Dales' to the west, where there are numerous caves, and millstone grit to the east. Between Grassington and Kettlewell it is possible to travel through limestone in one direction and grit in the other, both with spectacular scenery, by taking routes at different levels.
There are numerous hills that include the so-called 'Three Peaks' of Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside.
Some particularly beautiful places in the Dales are Appletreewick, Austwick, Bolton Abbey, Buckden, Clapham, Grassington, Hawes, Hubberholme, Malham, Reeth and Richmond but different people would add many others.