Badlands National Park Notch Trail

The Badlands Notch Trail

The Notch Trail in Badlands National Park is one of the park’s most popular trails. If you do much research on the Badlands, you’ll likely come across photos of a long wooden ladder on a rock face. This is the Badlands Notch Trail. It is a 1.5 mile round trip hike which is rated moderate to strenuous by the park service.

Badlands Notch Trail Sign

I’ll admit to feeling a little nervous about the Badlands Notch Trail. In my pre-trip research, I found some sites suggesting that people with a fear of heights (me) might want to sit this one out. However, I was afraid I’d regret it later if we didn’t give it a try.

The Trail Begins

The first portion of the Notch Trail is really easy and mostly flat.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the trail markers. In some spots, the trail appears to go in multiple directions.

Badlands National Park Notch Trail Sign

Badlands National Park Notch Trail

TRIP TIP: If you’re heading to the Black Hills, be sure to pick up this set of National Geographic Maps!

The Infamous Badlands Notch Trail Ladder

After enjoying the leisurely section of the Badlands Notch Trail, we came to the most challenging part – the long wooden ladder.  If you take your time, it really isn’t too bad.  The ladder is stable, so falling off was not a concern.

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After ascending the ladder, there are some rocks to scramble up, over, and around. However, as a whole, it was pretty tame.

Badlands National Park Notch Trail

Badlands Notch Trail: The Big Payoff

Once you reach the end of the trail, or the Notch, you are rewarded with a panoramic view.

Badlands National Park Notch View

Excluding the ladder, I would rate this trail as easy. The most challenging part of this hike is the ladder descent. It is a bit nerve wracking but not terrifying. Again, just take your time.


The Notch Trail offers sweeping views of the White River Valley. It is well worth the time and effort! I was glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone to experience this fun and unique hike!

Considering a Badlands hike? You DON’T want to miss these Badlands posts! Tip & Tee: Badlands National Park, Tip & Tee: Badlands Cedar Pass LodgeBadlands National Park Must-SeeTip & Tee: Badlands Park Night SkyFun Fact: Badlands National Park Fossil Finds

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