Cirsium parryi ranges from the Rocky Mountains of central and southern Colorado south to the San Francisco Peaks, Pinaleno Mountains, and White Mountains of Arizona, and the Mogollon and Sacramento ranges of southern New Mexico. Within this broad range several minor variants have been recognized at the species level. The features that supposedly distinguish C. gilense, C. inornatum, and C. pallidum vary widely and inconsistently through the range of the species. In like manner the characters used by Schaack and Goodwin to distinguish subsp. mogollonicum fall well within the variation of the species as a whole and do not seem adequate to separate subsp. mogollonicum from the rest of C. parryi at any taxonomic rank. Cirsium parryi hybridizes with C. grahamii in Arizona and C. canescens in Colorado.