Drivers of alpine plant community composition have been observed to vary with scale. Diversity of alpine tundra across four regions of the Rocky Mountains and among plots within one region was examined relative to temperature and precipitation variables. For regional scale analyses, averages of three metrics of plot-level species diversity relative to environmental variables and regional gamma diversity were examined for a subset of 60 plots from a stratified random sample in each region. For local scale analyses, additional soil and climate variables were included at 96 plots from one of the four regions. Correlations and visual examination of bivariate plots elucidated possible controls of cold temperatures and gamma diversity on average diversity metrics among the four regions and of precipitation and/or location on plot-level metrics within the single region. For the latter, the bivariate graph indicated a triangular distribution in which all levels of diversity exist at low precipitation but only low diversity at higher precipitation. We propose that change in drivers with scale is a general result of the relative importance of temperature and water in seed production (temperature > water) and seedling establishment (vice versa) and the logical priority of seed production over seedling establishment.