The location is most likely based on South Park in Colorado, a grassland flat in Park County with the largest town in South Park being Fairplay, Colorado. Since it was mentioned in the Season Eight episode “Goobacks” that South Park is near to Route 285, it supports the theory that South Park is based on the real-life South Park, since Route 285 runs straight through real-life South Park. The key difference between South Park in the show and reality is that in the show the town itself is named South Park, while in reality, South Park is a grassland flat, an area, not a town. In the show, South Park's location is never specified but is shown to be part of Park County, Colorado. It seems to be located near the state capital, Denver. Other real towns mentioned in the series are; Aspen, Boulder, Conifer, Eagle, Fairplay, Greeley, and Bailey.
In the Season 22 episode “The Scoots”, a regional map is shown with South Park at its center. The map depicts the relative locations of about twenty surrounding towns - including Fairplay, Eagle, Colorado City, and Idaho Springs. However, there is no way to reconcile this map with Colorado's actual geography.
In the early episodes, South Park is a small, stereotypical mountain town with an approximate population of 4,388, as revealed in “Chef Goes Nanners." Due to the show's use of a floating timeline, the town is perpetually in winter, with the occasional exception, such as “Summer Sucks," where the school year ended and summer vacation began. However, this "summer" only lasted for one episode, and the seasons of spring and fall were both bypassed completely.
While South Park at first appears to be a fairly normal and relaxed city, many bizarre and paranormal happenings have occurred there. In the pilot episode, alien Visitors visit South Park. As the series progressed, South Park has encountered mutant turkeys, killer fish from alternate dimensions, and immigrants from the future. The adults of South Park are generally incompetent, unreasonable, and gullible (with the exception of Chef) and in “Here Comes the Neighborhood," they are all (with the exception of Token Black's family) shown to be fairly low-income. When disaster strikes South Park, the adults are almost always completely ineffectual in solving it, leaving the children of South Park to save the town.
However, the adults are still important to keeping order within South Park, as seen in “The Wacky Molestation Adventure." Adults also form successful organizations to fight the "source" of the boys' misdemeanors. For example, Mrs. Broflovski creates a very powerful organization in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, called Mothers Against Canada in response to the boys' persistent foul language, which they blame on the movie Asses of Fire.
In the early episodes, South Park is depicted as being a very small town. In later episodes, it is depicted as being considerably larger.
Not much is known about the history of South Park, except that it goes back as early as the year 1867 and that it involved fourteen traveling pioneers from the East Coast.
Buildings frequently change locations. From a distance, the town seems to be only the main street, but more is actually shown in the town. It may be that the rest of the town is behind a mountain, or simply the creators' way of showing it as a small town.
Just like any animated sitcom, the show South Park has many different locations, most of which are situated inside the town. These include:
- The Bus Stop: A roadside bus stop where Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Eric Cartman, and Kenny McCormick wait for the school bus, and one of the most iconic locations in the show.
- South Park Elementary: The school that most of the children attend. It was run by Principal Victoria up until “Stunning and Brave” were P.C. Principal took over.
- Residences: The various houses of the residents of South Park. The houses are all very similar (excluding Token Black's and Kenny McCormick's) with the main differences being their color scheme.
- Main Street: A street lined with many shops, such as Tom's Rhinoplasty.
- Stark's Pond: A misty and slightly creepy pond near the edge of town. The Jakovasaurs were found in this pond, and Cartman once tried to kill Kyle here.
- City Wok: A Chinese restaurant owned by Tuong Lu Kim, whose thick Chinese accent prevents him from correctly pronouncing the restaurant's name, making it sound like "Shitty Wok."
- Hells Pass Hospital: An inconveniently situated hospital overlooking South Park.
- South Park Genetic Engineering Ranch: A stereotypical mad scientist lab owned by genetic engineer Dr. Alphonse Mephesto and his creation, Kevin.
- City Hall: A typical city hall that houses Mayor McDaniels' office, and the meeting room for the City Council.
- Bijou Cinema: A typical Movie Theater, which also hosted a Film Festival in “Chef's Chocolate Salty Balls”.
South Park has been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, such as in “Mecha-Streisand," “Chickenlover," and “201." It has remained more or less the same since the show's creation, though more and more of the town has appeared as the show goes on.