Wharfedale runs roughly from north to south, and is one of the longest dales in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and possibly its most visited due to its proximity to the towns and city's of west Yorkshire.

Like it close neighbour Wensleydale, the dale is separated into two areas. These are known as Upper Wharfedale and Lower Wharfedale, the division being where the river Wharfe separates Grassington and Threshfield. Occasionally the term Mid Wharfedale is used.

Wharfedale is one of the limestone dales; this can best be seen at the dramatic overhanging Kilnsey Crag, a favourite with climbers.

The medieval monks of Fountains Abbey and Bolton Priory owned large estates in Wharfedale and the many of the roads in use today where the former drove roads used to connect with other sheep farming estates throughout the dales. Many of these roads have now been surfaced, those that have not make up the green lanes found crossing the dales, and the most famous of these is Mastiles Lane, which connects Wharfedale with Malham.

Visitors to Wharfedale are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to visit, the Strid, Kilnsey Crag, Trollers Ghyll and Conistone Dibb are all marvellous examples of the natural attractions to be found. Not to out done by nature, man has contributed the fine buildings of Bolton Priory, Barden Tower and the gardens at Parcevall Hall that are now attractions. In addition to these Wharfedale hosts many events throughout the year. In June the Grassington Festival, an arts and music event, takes place. The Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival is a major attraction in August.