Plants densely cespitose. Culms 14-30 cm. Leaves: sheaths adaxially white-hyaline, summits U-shaped; distal ligules (1-)2-2.5 mm; blades 2-5(-8) per fertile culm, usually folded, 10.5-15 × 1-2.5 mm. Inflorescences dense or ± open, gold to brown, 1.4-3 cm × 5-11 mm; proximal internode (2.5-)3.5-6 mm; 2d internode 0.8-3.5 mm; proximal bracts usually bristlelike, shorter than inflorescences. Spikes 4-9, aggregated or distant, individually indistinct or distinct, lanceloid to ovoid, 5-11 × 2.5-6 mm, base and apex acute to attenuate. Pistillate scales gold to red-brown, often with whitish or green to gold midstripe or white tip, ovate to broadly ovate, (3-)3.5-5 mm, usually longer and wider than perignyium bodies, margin white, 0.1-0.3 mm wide, apex obtuse to acuminate. Perigynia appressed-ascending to ascending, gold or whitish, boat-shaped with wings adaxially incurved, conspicuously (0-)5-10-veined abaxially, conspicuously 0-6-veined adaxially, lanceolate or occasionally ovate, plano-convex, 3.5-4.2 × 1-1.2 mm, 0.4-0.5(-0.6) mm thick, margin flat, including wing 0.05-0.2 mm wide, ciliate-serrulate at least on distal body; beak gold to reddish or brown, white-hyaline at tip, cylindric, unwinged, entire for 0.3-0.6 mm, abaxial suture with conspicuous white margin, distance from beak tip to achene 1.5-2.2 mm, beak tip conspicuous in inflorescences. Achenes ovate to obovate, 1.4-1.8 × 0.7-0.95 mm, 0.35-0.4 mm thick. Fruiting mid-late summer. Moist meadows; 1500-4100 m; Calif., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.