Cirsium undulatum is widely distributed in the wstern half of North America from the dry plains and plateaus of the Pacific Northwest eastward across the Great Plains to Manitoba and the Dakotas and south to Texas, New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico. It occurs in scattered localities in the Rocky Mountains and northeastern Great Basin region. At least some of the few widely scattered records from the eastern United States are probably introductions. Cirsium undulatum is both widespread and variable. Plants of the Great Plains region tend to be low-growing with a few large heads and elongate corollas. Plants of the Pacific Northwest are usually taller and produce smaller, more numerous heads with shorter corollas. A detailed study of this species might reveal races worthy of recognition as infraspecific taxa.