Tufted Jay is endemic to Mexico. Its distribution is extremely limited, as shown by the fact that this large, spectacular species was not discovered until as late as 1934 (Moore 1935). It is a resident species, and is considered uncommon to common within its range. Tufted Jay distribution is restricted to the Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern Mexico in eastern Sinaloa, western Durango and northern Nayarit (Miller et al. 1957, Howell and Webb 1995). Recent unpublished records from Chichuahua (C. Villar-Rodríguez et al. , cited by BirdLife International 2014) remain unconfirmed.
The elevational range of Tufted Jay is 1500-2100 m (Howell and Webb 1995).