Younger bark is smooth and grey-brown. Mature bark is very thick, fluted, ridged, rough, and dark brown.
Needles are 2-3 cm long, deep yellowish-green, and flat with pointed tips. They are arranged spirally around twigs and have one groove on their upper surfaces and two lines of stomata on their lower surfaces. Buds are sharply pointed.
Pollen cones are small, yellow to reddish.
Douglas-fir can be distinguished by the “mice” hiding in their cones. The long, three-pointed bracts look like the hind legs and tail of a mouse. Their thick bark is sometimes described as being corky-like and helps protect them from moderate surface fires.