Notch Trail Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park,  Destinations,  South Dakota,  U.S. National Parks,  United States

Notch Trail Badlands National Park

The Notch Trail at Badlands National Park in South Dakota is my Number 1 recommendation for a moderate hike that most people should try.

Notch Trail Badlands National Park

The hike is around 1.33 miles round trip and I would say can be completed within an hour depending on trail traffic. Unlike the other trails near it there is no boardwalk to follow instead it is a decently marked dirt path. After the cliff ladder which I will get to in a minute, you mostly will trace the edge of a cliff so if you are afraid of heights watch out.

The main attraction of this trail and what makes it unique is the 50 rung rope ladders that you need to climb!

This at least to me is an incredibly unique thing to bring to a short hike to really bring the fun level up a notch! (get it?! LOL).

The rope ladder is not extremely hard but if you do not like hikes or have any mobility issues, I would warn caution. I would recommend to at least walk out to the ladder if you are at the trailhead to really gauge how you feel about the climb.

The only other issue you may run into while doing the Notch Trail is a traffic jam that does form at the rope ladder. Depending on what time of the day you might get caught behind a line of people going up or a line of people coming down. Not much you can do here except enjoy the scenery and jump in when you get a chance.

Once you make it to the top the rest of the trail is easy to follow. The first part is following the edge of a cliff so make sure to stay to the right and do not fall!

At the end of the cliff edge you now are following some slight hills that really make this a unique and special environment. This area is not the best marked but if you stay to the right side you cannot go wrong.

Eventually you will hit the end of the trail, a massive drop off into the valley below with some amazing views. The views from the drop off are just mesmerizing and really show the unique landscape of Badlands National Park.

Now it is time to head back and hopefully not have a long queue to get back down the ladder. Luckily, the hike is quick, but it is hot out in the Badlands and I highly recommend some water, sunblock, and a hat.

Have you been to the Badlands National Park? Did you have a favorite trail to hike?

Follow along the adventures on:

Instagram @gusontherun or Twitter @gusontherun


  • Sarah

    That looks fantastic, but for some reason I just cannot use rope ladders so I don’t know if I’d manage. It looks like it’s on a steep slope rather than straight up though so I might be able to get up but not sure if I’d be able to get back down!

    • Gus

      The rope definitely throws a curveball to the hike but have to say it isn’t straight vertical so I think most people can do it. Once you start its pretty easy to just keep going. Coming down though is another story LOL.

  • The Holidaymaker

    That would be a short hike, but a bit different with the rope ladder. I’d try it! And the views, of course are the best part.

    • Gus

      The rope ladder really makes it such a unique hike! And overall the views at the end are one of a kind for almost any park I have been too.

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