The strawberry hedgehog cactus or Engelmann's hedgehog cactus is commonly found in desert areas of the southwestern United States and the adjacent areas of Mexico, including the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Baja California and Sonora.
Echinocereus engelmannii is one of the most common species of cactus in the south-western USA and Mexico. Still, there are a number of varieties of Echinocereus engelmannii, and some are quite rare. It grows in different dry habitats normally in well drained deserts in Sonoran and Mojave deserts, chaparral, pinyon-juniper woodlands, grass, and Great Basin shrub in flats with fine sand on the plain, washes and canyons in the desert, and also in gravelly, sandy, or rocky hillsides, and in mountain ranges. The rich flora and diverse vegetation of the area comprises, among the others, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Mammillaria boolii, Mammillaria microcarpa, Mammillaria tetrancistra, Echinocereus scopulorum, Fouquieria macdougalii, Larrea tridentata, Cercicium microphyllum, Idria columnaris, Opuntia leptocaulis, Opuntia ramosissima and Opuntia engelmannii. The species is abundant throughout its range. Land use change is a threat affecting this species, however it is not a major.