Leaves of chionophila jamesii
are dark green, the stems purple, and the petals white with a distinct brown edge. The plant is a low growing species, relatively uncommon, found in high elevation areas of the southern Rocky Mountains, in rocky or gravelly places.
Flowers form at one side of a spiked inflorescence; they have a flattered, two-lipped corolla enclosing four purple-tipped stamens and one staminode, which is hairless, unlike the many, somewhat similar penstemon species. The thick green leaves are mostly basal, but point upwards, and are about the same length as the flower stalk - up to 4 inches. Plants have a small number of flowerheads, in the range 3 to 10.