The park is 57,969 hectares and was reserved in March 1977 for the purpose of protecting mallee land systems following the purchase of Mallee Cliffs Station. The park protects extensive areas of flat to undulating red sandy plains and sand dunes and is significant for protecting mallee and other semi-arid ecosystems of southern Australia which are poorly represented in the reserve system.
The park is in the Murray Darling Depression Bioregion which experiences a moderately harsh semi-arid climate, with an annual mean rainfall of only 290 millimetres.
Mallee Cliffs is part of an important network of parks which protects native ecosystems that are greatly diminished in extent or degraded by grazing and other landuses in the broader landscape. The other parks include Mutawintji, Sturt, Mungo, Kinchega, Paroo-Darling and Toorale national parks, and Nocoleche and Tarawi nature reserves.
Mallee Cliffs provides valuable habitat for a diverse range of animals, especially mallee dwelling animals. Native animals recorded in the park include: 129 birds, 50 reptiles and 18 mammals. Patches of old-age mallee (over 50 years old) form the richest habitat in the park in terms of the diversity of animal species found there.
A public consultation on the reintroduction of locally extinct mammals was held in 2017. The Reintroduction of Locally Extinct Mammals Project under the Saving our Species Program began in 2017 in the park. In addition to reintroducing small mammals, which were once present in the western New South Wales landscape and act as ecosystem engineers, the project is expected to benefit all biodiversity in the park through intensified pest control.
Other planning documents
The Mallee Cliffs National Park Draft Plan of Management: Planning considerations (2017), is a support document to the plan of management. It includes detailed information on park values, such as threatened species and cultural heritage, and threats to these values. A summary of this information is included in the plan of management.