Plants (15-)20-60 cm. Basal leaves: blades green, rounded-deltate or deltate to triangular-deltate, 15-25 × 6-15 cm, bases cordate or hastate to truncate, margins usually entire, sometimes crenate (to dentate near bases), apices acute to attenuate, faces finely hispidulous to hirtellous (gland-dotted as well). Heads usually (2-)3+, sometimes borne singly. Involucres hemispheric to turbinate or campanulate, 12-20 mm diam. Outer phyllaries oblong to lanceolate or linear, 15-25 mm, usually surpassing inner, apices acute to attenuate. Ray laminae 20-30(-40) mm (cypselae strigose or glabrous). 2n = 38.
Flowering (Mar-)May-Jun(-Jul). Dry scablands, semi-desert soils, openings in pine forests; 500-1000 m; Oreg., Wash.
Hybrids involving Balsamorhiza careyana and B. deltoidea occur near the Columbia River Gorge; intermediates are found to the east and south. In northern Oregon, plants in some populations have glabrous cypselae and some populations are mixed. The hairiness may come from B. rosea; B. rosea and B. careyana may hybridize profusely, producing mostly plants with the stature of B. careyana and with the relatively short, brick-red ray corollas of B. rosea. Hybridization also occurs, occasionally, between B. careyana and B. sagittata; B. careyana also hybridizes with any species of sect. Balsamorhiza with which it comes in contact. Plants called Balsamorhiza careyana var. intermedia usually have crenate leaf margins and glabrous cypselae.