The Yahatinda Formation includes both terrestrial river channel and littoral marine sediments. The channel deposits, which are well exposed at the type locality, consist of reddish, medium- to coarse-grained, cross-bedded dolomitic sandstones, siltstones, conglomerates and breccias. The channels contain eroded cobbles and boulders from the older underlying formations, as well as the remains of land plants and freshwater fish.
The littoral deposits consist of micritic mudstones and dolomitic mudstones that are thought to have been deposited in intertidal to supratidal environments. These sequences include paleosols, calcrete and dolocrete.
The Yahatinda Formation is present as discontinuous outcrops in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, from the Brazeau River in the north to near the Kananaskis Lakes in the south, and possibly at Mount Wilson in extreme southern Alberta.
The thickness of the Yahatinda is highly variable because it was deposited on an erosion surface with high topographic relief. It is typically less than 30 m (98 ft) thick and is absent over paleotopographic highs, but it can reach thicknesses as great as 265 m (869 ft) in deeply incised paleovalleys.
The strata of the Yahatinda Formation were originally included in the Ghost River Formation, but that formation name was later abandoned. The Yahatinda rests unconformably on formations that range in age from late Cambrian to early Ordovician. It is overlain by the Flume and Cairn Formations of the Fairholme Group. It was deposited along the east side of the Western Alberta Ridge, a paleogeographic feature that existed at that time, and it is equivalent to the Cedared Formation that was deposited on the western side of the ridge. It is equivalent in age to the upper part of the Elk Point Group in the basin to the east.