Based on a recently developed inventory of permafrost presence or absence from 1475 in situ observations, we developed and trained a statistical model and used it to compile a high‐resolution (30 arc‐ seconds) permafrost zonation index (PZI) map. The PZI model captures the high spatial variability of permafrost distribution over the QTP because it considers multi- ple controlling variables, including near‐surface air temperature downscaled from re‐ analysis, snow cover days and vegetation cover derived from remote sensing. Our results showed the new PZI map achieved the best performance compared to avail- able existing PZI and traditional categorical maps. Based on more than 1000 in situ measurements, the Cohen's kappa coefficient and overall classification accuracy were 0.62 and 82.5%, respectively. Excluding glaciers and lakes, the area of permafrost regions over the QTP is approximately 1.54 (1.35–1.66) ×106 km2, or 60.7 (54.5– 65.2)% of the exposed land, while area underlain by permafrost is about 1.17 (0.95–1.35) ×106 km2, or 46 (37.3–53.0)%.