Snow leopards are a central Asian species, preferring the high altitudes of mountain ranges like the Himalayas. Their habitat includes Afghanistan, Tibet, Russia, China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, India and Pakistan.
Snow leopards may be found in flatter terrain if there is sufficient cover from vegetation. This is particularly true in Russia, where they are generally found at lower elevations. They are also found in the Gobi desert, which is renowned for being high altitude and dry, with extreme shifts in temperature. Snow leopard habitats are overall distinguished by being cold, arid and harsh. They deal with these difficult conditions by being highly nomadic. This allows them to find prey even when prey density is low.