This is a medium-sized olive-green to reddish-tan crayfish with prominent black or brown rings around the fingers of its pincers near the tips. The pincers are often very broad and heavy (especially in males) with a broad gap between the fingers when they are closed. A dark band crosses the carapace near its junction with the abdomen. A pair of dark stripes run lengthwise along the abdomen near its lateral (side) margins. No other crayfish within the range of this species has conspicuous black rings on the fingers.
Similar species: Two subspecies occur in Missouri (see below). Another species, the Ozark crayfish, is often found in the same streams; it has about the same size and build but has numerous dark specks on the abdomen and pincers.