Window Trail

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Trip Date: Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
Last Updated: Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★☆☆(3/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.25 miles roundtrip
Time 15 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons Spring, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible Yes

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

The Window Trail was clearly designed as an easy way for all users to view the amazing scenery of the badlands, especially for those who are unable to hike the two more difficult trails available at this parking area, the Door Trail and Notch Trail. Everyone who stops at this parking lot should hike this trail, even if you intend on doing other trails -- it's easy enough that you'll still have energy. The short, accessible boardwalk has a couple benches along the way so you can sit and rest while observing the surrounding rock formations, see the picture below.

Benches along the boardwalk are good for sitting and enjoying the scenery

Benches along the boardwalk are good for sitting and enjoying the scenery

Even though this is an easy trail, it does not lack scenery, and you'll be able to see the same kind of sights available on other more difficult trails. On the side of the trail, you can see this barren landscape up close and personal with all its crags and rocks slowly carved by water over time, see the picture below.
You'll see barren rock formations just to the side of the trail

You'll see barren rock formations just to the side of the trail

The hike ends at the Window, so named because it's a large opening to view the impressive badlands formations, pictured below. You can see for miles, and this view reminds me of a smaller version of scenes at the Grand Canyon.
The Window provides you astounding views of badlands rock formations

The Window provides you astounding views of badlands rock formations

If you hunger for more scenery and hiking, try one of the other two trails near here, or continue on the scenic drive through the park to truly soak in the amazing landscape. Let me know what you think in the comments section below, and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

Pets are prohibited on all hiking trails in Badlands National Park. This is a quick and easy wheelchair accessible trail, which also means it's family friendly and perfect for strollers. While you can certainly hike here in all four seasons, the trail is unmaintained in winter and may be icy or covered in snow -- in addition to the brutally cold temperatures you'll have to endure. Summers are hot and dry with average daytime highs in the 90s, exacerbated by the lack of shade anywhere in the park; I wouldn't recommend visiting in the summer. Be prepared with extra water and sun protection, no matter which season you hike. This is one of the most popular areas of the entire park, as evidenced by the amount of parking spaces here, so expect to share the trail with crowds of people.

Directions

From Interstate 90, take exit 131 for South Dakota Highway 240 (you'll see a brown sign for Badlands National Park and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Visitor Center). Head south and continue to the park entrance station. Pay your fee, continue straight, then turn left into the parking area, labeled with a brown sign for the Door/Window viewpoints.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Entrance to the park requires paying the $20 vehicle entrance fee ($25 starting January 2019), except on designated fee free days. Annual passes for Badlands National Park are also available at $40 ($50 starting January 2019). Interagency annual passes are available for $80 with discounts for seniors, military, and those with disabilities. Visit the Badlands National Park webpage about fees for more detailed information. There are pit toilets available in the center of this large parking lot.

External Links

Nearby Hikes

Notch Trail

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
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Door Trail

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Cliff Shelf Nature Trail Loop

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Saddle Pass to Medicine Root Loop

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