Crimson-crested Woodpecker is resident from eastern Panama to northern and central South America. West of the Andes the range extends south to southwestern Colombia (but not extending to southwestern Cauca or to Nariño). East of the Andes, the range is from eastern Colombia south of northwestern and northeastern Argentina, and east to Venezuela, the Guianas, and throughout most of Brazil except for the Atlantic forest region.
Crimson-crested Woodpecker occurs in the lowlands, up to 900 m in Panama (Wetmore 1968); to 3100 m in Colombia (but usually below 2000 m; Hilty and Brown 1986); to 2000 m (but mostly below 1500 m) in northern Venezuela, to 950 m in southern Venezuela (Hilty 2003); mostly below 900 m in Ecuador (but locally up to 1350 m; Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b); up to 1400 m in Peru (Walker et al. 2006, Schulenberg et al. 2010); and up to 1000 m in Bolivia (Hennessey et al. 2003).