Betula papyrifera is a broadly distributed tree in northern North America, occurring in Alaska, every Canadian province except Nunavit and some northern USA states. This species is often found in the southern part of the range of Black spruce dominance, and is an early invader after fire disturbance to Black spruce forests.
Preferred habitat for the Paper birch are moist, somewhat open, upland forest. This species especially thrives on rocky slopes and occasionally in swampy woods. Elevations of occurrence are typically 300 to 900 metres.