Plants 6-40 cm. Leaves: blades bright green, narrowly lance-elliptic to lanceolate, (6-)15-25(-40) × (3-)5-9+ cm (1-2-pinnatifid, primary lobes lanceolate to oblanceolate, 10-45 × 2-15 mm, secondary lobes usually divergent, antrorse), bases ± cuneate, ultimate margins usually entire (± revolute and/or thickened, often ciliate), apices acute to attenuate, faces ± hispidulous to hirtellous (gland-dotted as well; veins ± scabrous). Heads borne singly. Involucres campanulate to hemispheric 10-25 mm diam. Outer phyllaries lanceolate to linear, 12-20 mm, not surpassing inner, apices acute to attenuate (margins often ciliate). Ray laminae 15-40 mm (abaxially glabrous).
Flowering Apr-May. Basalt scablands and desert-steppe areas, juniper and sagebrush scrublands; 1800-2500 m; Ariz., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., Oreg., Utah, Wyo.
Distribution of Balsamorhiza hispidula is highly disrupted in the southern part of its range.