Ladder-tailed Nightjar is widespread in Amazonia, ranging from eastern Colombia south to Bolivia, and east to the Guianas and eastern Brazil.
Ladder-tailed Nightjar typically is restricted to the lowlands. The known upper elevational limit in Colombia, for example, is as low as 400 m (Hilty and Brown 1986), and only 350 m in Venezulea (Hilty 2003). It primarily occurs below 400 m in Ecuador, but locally is found up to 1000 m (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001a). Similarly, in Peru it primarily occurs below 600 m, but, remarkably, it is reported up to 2600 in some intermontane valleys (Schulenberg et al. 2010). The reported elevational range in Bolivia is 100-1200 m (Hennessey et al. 2003).