Frigid Winter Hike on Square Butte

When we see a high point, we want to get to the top of it to see…….whatever it is we can see!   On this frigid winter afternoon (yikes!  -30 + degrees with out windchill!) in western North Dakota, we did!   We took on a challenge not only of getting to the top of Square Butte, at an elevation of 3346 feet one of the highest points in North Dakota, but of keeping warm and catching what we hoped would be a colorful sunset.  Oh….and getting back to our Jeep before dark!   

Winter Sunset at -30 degrees

Follow along with our adventure through this series of photos.   We got what we were hoping for, and much more!   The last two photos just may leave you feeling warmer, and with an urge to do some hiking and climbing yourself!  


For more views of our subzero adventure, and others, click here:  There’s a Beautiful World Waiting For You! 

Read about our summer adventure at Sentinel Butte here:   You’ve Never Seen Square Butte Like This! 

After our hiking adventure we refueled and rested here:   The Oldest Saloon in Medora!  Meet Some Cowboys!

A Winter Scramble Up Square Butte, North Dakota Badlands

What can we see from the top? Sometimes it’s not only the frigid (-30 degree!) temperature which poses a challenge, it’s the boulders which are much bigger up close, than they seem from afar.

Nearing the Top of Square Butte, North Dakota Badlands

The shadows began to grow long more quickly than we expected as we neared the top of Square Butte in western North Dakota on a -30 degree winter day.

Still Hiking As the Sun Sets At Square Butte, North Dakota Badlands

Our adventure had taken longer than expected. The boulders were much bigger and the terrain much rougher than we had anticipated. And the sun sets early in the North Dakota Badlands in winter. We continued to hike the top of Square Butte, wanting take in the astounding winter vistas, and not wanting to make another -30 degree (and plummeting) day to do so.

Getting Darker and Colder on Square Butte, North Dakota Badlands

Colors morphed around us and were brilliant in the crisp (frigid) winter air when we scrambled to the top of Square Butte in western North Dakota. As the sky grew darker we continued to roam, wanting to experience the entire kaleidoscope in which we found ourselves.

Venus Belt in the Winter from Square Butte, North Dakota Badlands

Our goal was to see what we hoped would be a brilliant winter sunset from one of the highest points in North Dakota. Just as brilliant was the eastern sky, with it’s blues and pinks, as the grass before us began to glow with gold when the sun set to the west. Spellbinding, nearly hypnotic!

Sunset on Square Butte on a -30 Degree Winter Day, North Dakota Badlands

Our hopes came to fruition when the sun began to set as we looked toward Sentinel Butte and Camels Hump from atop Square Butte in western North Dakota. The intensity of the colors was sensational!

Sunset from Atop Square Butte on a Frigid Winters Day, North Dakota Badlands

Before black settled over the scene, brilliant oranges and reds and gold began to reflect in the snow. For a few moments, the ground before us was as filled with color as the sky above the horizon. In the distance, Sentinel Butte and Camels Hump, two of the other highest points in the state, reminded us that we had attained our goal, to see what we could see at sunset from the top of Square Butte, elevation 3346 ft.

Hiking To The Edge of Sentinel Butte, North Dakota Badlands

How far can one hike east on Sentinel Butte, elevation 3430 ft. in western North Dakota? To that small outcropping. With a tremendous view of Square Butte in the distance, Mike nears the turn around point of our hike on a beautiful summer day in western North Dakota.

Square Butte On A Summer Day, North Dakota Badlands

Square Butte, elevation 3346 ft., as seen looking east from Sentinel Butte, elevation 3430 ft. are two of the highest points of land in North Dakota. The brilliant blue skies and puffy white clouds on this summer day later turned into a lightening filled show and loud thunderstorms in the badlands, by which time we were safely in our Jeep exploring red scoria backroads in western North Dakota.

Beautiful Badlands Ad Mykuhls