Should you visit Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Columbia River Gorge or Rapid City, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
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 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 city 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 $143, while the average daily cost in Rapid City is $93. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Columbia River Gorge and Rapid City in more detail.
A hotel room in Columbia River Gorge is about $142 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $96 in Rapid City For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
Hotel or hostel for one person
Columbia River Gorge $71
Rapid City $48
Typical double-occupancy room
Columbia River Gorge
The average traveler spends about $37 per day in Columbia River Gorge for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
In Rapid City travelers spend around $19 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.
Meals for one day
Columbia River Gorge $37
Rapid City $19
The cost of a taxi ride in Columbia River Gorge is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $62 per person, per day, on local transportation in Columbia River Gorge.
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Rapid City than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $42 on transportation in Rapid City on average per day.
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.
Entertainment and activities in Columbia River Gorge typically cost an average of $16 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.
Sightseeing expenses in Rapid City, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $21 per day, per person.
Tours and Activities in Rapid City
For Rapid City, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Full-Day Tour:
Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Bus Tour with Live Commentary:
Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills:
Bike Adventure on the Mickelson Trail - Private:
Southern Black Hills Bicycle Tour - Private:
Private Black Hills Monuments Full-Day Tour:
Black Hills: Private Tour of Mt. Rushmore & Flume Trail Hike:
Badlands National Park Private Tour:
Private Mickelson Trail Bicycling Tour/ Two Person Minimum:
Private Jeep Safari and Hiking Tour/ Two Person Minimum:
Private Badlands National Park Day Tour:
Private Mt Rushmore & Southern Black Hills Tour:
The average person spends about $9.49 on alcoholic beverages in Columbia River Gorge per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
Typically, people visiting Rapid City spend on average $5.54 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
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.
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