Quttinirpaaq National Park protects a representative sample of the Eastern High Arctic Natural Region. This natural region is one of rugged mountains, vast ice caps, and barren tundra, interspersed with few lakes and limited areas of vegetation where wildlife is more abundant.

The High Arctic climate is cold and dry, with little precipitation, and the park is a polar desert. Winters are very cold with some of the lowest temperatures recorded in Canada. In contrast, summers, though short, can be surprisingly warm, particularly in the Lake Hazen area. Coastal areas of the park are generally cooler and receive more precipitation than the interior. Winds throughout the park tend to be light, except on the ice caps. There are 24 hours of daylight from May to August and 24 hours of darkness from November to February.

The polar desert climate and extreme seasonality of daylight hours create severe conditions for living organisms. Quttinirpaaq’s ecosystems are characterized by low species diversity, simple food webs and low productivity. The most significant ecological stressor for the park is expected to be global climate change.