Stems erect or ascending, 30-150 cm. Leaf faces thinly to densely arachnoid-tomentose, especially abaxially, and villous or tomentose with septate trichomes, especially along midveins, adaxially ± glabrate. Heads sessile or short-pedunculate in usually nodding, densely woolly-tomentose, spiciform or racemiform arrays. Involucres 2.5-3.5 cm, densely tomentose with septate trichomes (individual phyllaries obscured by tomentum). Phyllaries: outer with stiff lateral spines; apical spines slender. Corollas yellow (northern populations) or pink to pale purple (southern populations), 13-18 mm, tubes 6-9 mm, throats 3-5.5 mm, lobes 3-7 mm. Pappi 10-15 mm. 2n = 34 (as C. scopulorum). Flowering summer (Jul-Sep). Forest openings, alpine and subalpine meadows, windswept alpine ridges; 2200-3800 m; Colo., N.Mex., Utah.