These animals are similar in appearance to the meadow vole. They have short ears and a short thin tail which is paler underneath. Their long soft fur is brownish with silver grey underparts. They are 14 cm long with a 3.5 cm tail and weigh about 40 g.
They are found in alpine meadows, open shrubby areas, dry forests with shrubs below to provide cover and tundra regions, usually near water, in British Columbia, the Yukon and the western United States. In summer, they live in underground burrows and, in winter, they tunnel under the snow. They store food for later use year-round.
The female vole has 2 or 3 litters of 2 to 9 young in a nest made from grasses.
They are active year-round, and are crepuscular.
The population of this animal has been reduced in some parts of its range because of clearcutting of forests.