This is a large and distinctive member of the Plethodon group that reaches a total length of 11-22 cm. The back is black with reddish-brown to red blotches. These blotches fuse in older animals to form a solid red, wide band. The sides are heavily marked with gray to silver-white blotches that often fuse to form bands. The belly and throat are lightly pigmented and sometimes blotched. It is believed that the eggs are laid underground in late spring or summer, and hatching occurs 2-3 months later. It is thought that they become sexually mature at 3 years or more of age. Adults are active at night. They hide by day beneath logs or stones and have long burrows in the forest floor.
It is found in deciduous forests in the Mount Rogers area and in the Blue Ridge Mountains from North Carolina to Floyd Co. It occurs at elevations from about 440 to 1700 meters. This species inhabits hillsides and ravines, often where rockslides are thickly covered with mosses and ferns.
Prey include spiders, mites, millipedes, centipedes, earthworms, and a variety of insects and other small invertebrates.