A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Columbia River Gorge vs. Rapid City for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Where Should I go: Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City?

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a popular destination in the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. The region's close proximity to Portland, which is just 30 minutes away, makes it a popular weekend destination.

The gorge is formed by the Columbia River, with an 80 mile stretch designated as a National Scenic Area. The area has many beautiful cliffs with a number of tall waterfalls and its protected status means that most new development must occur within one of the already established towns.

Rapid City

Rapid City is a large city in western South Dakota that is considered the gateway to the Black Hills National Forest. Rapid City is often used as a base for all types of outdoor activities, including tours to the infamous Mount Rushmore and surrounding parks. The city has a budding art scene and offers the perfect combination of a metropolitan city surrounded by stunning natural scenery. Rapid City experiences the best weather from June-September with temperatures in the 70's and 80's Fahrenheit. Temperatures drop to the low 20's F in the winter and the area receives the most rain pour in April and May.

Which place is cheaper, Rapid City or Columbia River Gorge?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Columbia River Gorge is $179, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $116. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Columbia River Gorge and Rapid City in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Columbia River Gorge $89
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Columbia River Gorge $178
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Columbia River Gorge and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Columbia River Gorge

Hotels in Rapid City

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.

Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Columbia River Gorge $78
    Rapid City $53

Is it cheaper to fly into Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City and Columbia River Gorge change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Columbia River Gorge $46
    Rapid City $23

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Roller Coaster Tickets with Dinner and Show in Rapid City: $70

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Columbia River Gorge $20
    Rapid City $26

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

For Rapid City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Black Hills & Badlands: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $20
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • NEW! Half Day Tour of the Black Hills: $255
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • Badlands Sunset, Stars and Silhouettes Tour: $289
  • Badlands Premium Van Tour - Public: $299
  • Private Half Day Mt Rushmore & Black Hills Tour: $325
  • Devils Tower, Spearfish Canyon and Northern Black Hills Adventure: $369
  • Premiere Private Black Hills Tour: Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse & Custer State Park: $370
  • Private Badlands National Park Day Tour : $370
  • Private Tour of the Badlands with Local Experts: $375

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Columbia River Gorge $12
    Rapid City $6.93

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Columbia River Gorge and Rapid City, we can see that Columbia River Gorge is more expensive. And not only is Rapid City much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Rapid City would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Rapid City and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Columbia River Gorge would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Columbia River Gorge than you might in Rapid City.

Which is Bigger, Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City?

Rapid City is bigger, and its population is about 5.4 times larger than the population of Columbia River Gorge. When comparing the population of Columbia River Gorge vs. Rapid City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit and the activities that interest you.

Related Articles for Columbia River Gorge
Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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Columbia River Gorge vs. Rapid City Travel Comparison

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