Plants densely cespitose. Culms 33-72 cm. Leaves: sheath adaxially white-hyaline or brownish tinged, occasionally only in very narrow band extending 2.5 cm proximal to collar; summit usually U-shaped; distal ligules 1-2.5(-3.5) mm; blades 3-4(-5) per fertile culm, 15-30 cm × (2.8-)3-4.5 mm. Inflorescences dense, green and brown, gold and brown, or light brown, (1.7-)2-3 cm × 15-21(-27) mm; proximal internode (2-)3.5-7(-11) mm; 2d internode 2-5 mm; proximal bracts bristlelike, shorter than inflorescences or occasionally leaflike. Spikes 4-5, distant, distinct, broadly ovoid, 11-16 × 6-12 mm, base rounded to attenuate, apex acute to truncate. Pistillate scales gold, red-brown, or chestnut-brown, sometimes with green to gold midstripe, lanceolate to broadly ovate, 4.7-6.7 mm, shorter and narrower than perigynia, margin white 0.1-0.2(-0.4) mm wide, apex acute to acuminate. Perigynia ascending or appressed-ascending, green to gold, veinless on each face or, occasionally, 6-veined abaxially, broadly ovate, usually flat except over achene, (5.5-)6-7.2 × 2.7-3.8 mm, 0.5-0.7 mm thick, 1.8-2.3 times as long as wide, margin flat, including wing 0.5-1.1 mm wide, ciliate-serrulate at least distally; beak red-gold to red-brown, sometimes white-hyaline at tip, flat, ± ciliate-serrulate, abaxial suture with conspicuous white margin, distance from beak tip to achene 3-4.3 mm. Achenes broadly ovate to broadly elliptic, (1.8-)2-2.3 × (1.1-)1.3-1.6 mm, (0.4-)0.5-0.7 mm thick. Fruiting summer. Dry, open areas; 2400-3700 m; Colo., Utah, Wyo.