A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Durango vs. Columbia River Gorge for Food, Hiking, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

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

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Durango and Columbia River Gorge. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Durango

Durango is a quaint, scenic, and nature-filled small town. This is also a fantastic small town with plenty of charm and local activities. It's a gorgeous place to visit. This is an attractive and quaint destination worth visiting as well. It's also known for hiking and museums.

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a scenic, natural, and beautiful region. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. Other reasons to visit include food, hiking, and shopping.

Durango and Columbia River Gorge: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Both Columbia River Gorge and Durango have plenty of things to do for travelers. Both provide a wide variety of sights and activities for tourists. Durango is more popular for its skiing, museums, historical sights, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere, while Columbia River Gorge is known for its food, nightlife, shopping, and impressive beauty. Columbia River Gorge is more touristy than Durango and is popular for its hiking, biking, and high number of waterfalls. Durango is popular for its historic narrow gauge railroad, its charming small town atmosphere, and its many family-friendly activities.

How is Durango different from Columbia River Gorge?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Columbia River Gorge and Durango. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Skiing?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Durango is a moderate small town for snow skiing. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a skiing destination.

Locals like to visit Durango to take advantage of their winter sports. Purgatory Ski Resort is about 20 minutes from town and it's a family-friendly mountain with beginner and intermediate runs. It's small, and geared specifically to the beginner and younger crowd.

Columbia River Gorge is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Durango is a nice place to visit for its sights and museums. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for its museums and history.

Durango is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Most visitors come to town specifically to ride the Silverton & Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad. There's also the D&SNGRR Railroad Museum, and the Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum.

While most people don't head to Columbia River Gorge specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There are a couple of local museums in the area, but most visitors spend their time exploring the region's natural beauty.

Is the Food Better in Durango or Columbia River Gorge? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for its restaurants. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Columbia River Gorge. You'll find many great restaurants in the area that serve local dishes that make use of the region's agricultural scene.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Durango. Most of the restaurants are casual and family-friendly, serving up burgers or sandwiches for a reasonable price. You'll also find some coffeeshops and even a few food trucks and international restaurants.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Nightlife?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a good destination for nightlife. However, Durango is lacking in good options for nightlife and partying.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Columbia River Gorge. Local breweries, wineries, and bars offer a relaxing setting with a local vibe.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Durango. It's a small town that attracts tourists mainly for its train, so you won't find much in the way of a nightlife scene.


Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for its Old Town?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Durango is a nice place to visit for its historic old town. However, Columbia River Gorge does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Durango to see the historical old town. Filled with character, the downtown feels like you've stepped into a Western. The town has a long history as a mining and railroad community, which you can see throughout the historic area. It really feels like you're in the "Wild West."

Columbia River Gorge does not have a historic old town.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Hiking?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Hiking trails can be found around both Durango and Columbia River Gorge, and they are great.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Durango. It's surrounded by plenty of natural beautiful and there is an endless supply of hikes in the region. Popular nearby hikes include Animas Mountain Trail, Falls Creek Trail, and Purgatory Trail.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Columbia River Gorge. There are world-class hikes that take you to iconic waterfalls, breathtaking viewpoints, and along scenic waterways.

Is the Shopping Better in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a good destination for shopping. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its shopping opportunities.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Columbia River Gorge. Art galleries feature local artwork and artisan crafts. There are photography shops and other venues that sell items highlighting the region's beauty.

If you're looking to go shopping, Durango has some nice offerings. The charming town has some boutiques that sell beautifully made Native American jewelry and other interesting items. There are also souvenir shops and other venues that target tourists specifically.


Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Christmas?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Durango is a nice place to visit for its Christmas activities. However, Columbia River Gorge does not offer Christmas activities.

Durango is a fun destination over Christmas. It is a great Christmas town where you can meet Santa, go skiing, and even take the Polar Express.

Columbia River Gorge does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Families?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Both Durango and Columbia River Gorge are great family-friendly destinations.

Durango is a very family-friendly destination. In the area you'll find ziplining, alpine slides, and plenty of outdoor areas to explore - and of course there's the railroad.

Columbia River Gorge is a very kid-friendly small town. Kids will love exploring the waterfalls and mountains as much as the adults do. There are kid-friendly hikes as well as bakeries and restaurants with many kid options.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Couples?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for romance. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its romantic activities.

Columbia River Gorge makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples will love the romantic hikes and waterfalls. There are also beautiful scenic viewpoints and wonderful restaurants.

Most people don't think of Durango as a couple's destination. The town may not be the first romantic destination that comes to mind, but the railroad combined with wandering the downtown can make for a great couple's getaway.


Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a very popular place for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Durango is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Columbia River Gorge is very popular with the backpacker crowd. You'll find hostels and campgrounds in the area that are perfect for backpackers and budget travelers.

Plenty of budget travelers visit Durango. With plenty of parks and outdoor areas nearby, backpackers will have plenty of places to explore.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Columbia River Gorge. There are some buses, but don't rely on them to efficiently explore.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Durango. It's a small town with no real public transit options so a car is a must.

Is Durango or Columbia River Gorge a more walkable city?

Durango
Columbia River Gorge

Durango is a moderate small town for its walkability. However, Columbia River Gorge is not a good region for its high level of walkability.

Durango is generally not very walkable. While the Main Street through town is walkable, it's not as pedestrian-friendly as some small towns.

Columbia River Gorge is not a very walkable small town. You really need a car to explore the area, but some visitors rely on a bike.


For even more information, also check out Is Durango Worth Visiting? and Is Columbia River Gorge Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Columbia River Gorge or Durango?

How long in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Durango and Columbia River Gorge. In our opinion, Columbia River Gorge has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Columbia River Gorge than Durango. However, 2-3 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Durango than Columbia River Gorge. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Durango, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Columbia River Gorge than Durango. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Columbia River Gorge that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Columbia River Gorge than Durango if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Columbia River Gorge.


  • How many days in Durango or Columbia River Gorge? Ideal Length of Stay
    Durango 2-3 
    Columbia River Gorge 2-3

One day in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Durango is a small town where visitors enjoy the museums. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

In Columbia River Gorge, you'll find shopping and nightlife. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This region offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Durango is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this small town has to offer. This small town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

In Columbia River Gorge, you'll find nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Columbia River Gorge has to offer.

Five days in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Many people visit Durango for five days. Durango is a small town, so you can explore the area with less time. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Columbia River Gorge is a great place to explore. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Because Durango is a small town, it's easy to explore in a short amount of time. Hikers are also drawn to this area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Columbia River Gorge. Many people enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting Columbia River Gorge. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City, The Best 2-Week Tours from New York City, The Best 2-Week Tours from Anchorage, and The Best 2-Week Tours from San Francisco.


Which place is cheaper, Columbia River Gorge or Durango?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Durango is $153, while the average daily cost in Columbia River Gorge is $179. 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 Durango and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Durango $79
    Columbia River Gorge $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Durango $158
    Columbia River Gorge $178
Compare Hotels in Durango and Columbia River Gorge

Looking for a hotel in Durango or Columbia River Gorge? 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 Durango


Hotels in Columbia River Gorge


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: Durango Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Durango $27
    Columbia River Gorge $78

Is it cheaper to fly into Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Prices for flights to both Columbia River Gorge and Durango 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Durango $50
    Columbia River Gorge $46

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Durango $46
    Columbia River Gorge $20
Typical Entertainment Prices in Durango

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Durango's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Hot Springs (for 2)
    $50
  • Tubing (for 2)
    $40

Tours and Activities in Durango

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

  • Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour in Mesa Verde National Park: $13
  • Colorado: Million Dollar Highway Self-Driving Audio Tour: $15
  • Million Dollar Highway Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Mesa Verde Sunrise Tours: $26
  • Water Tubing Experience in Animas River: $34
  • Durango Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Scenic Waterfall's & Ghost Town Jeep Tour La Plata's~ 2.5 hours: $84
  • La Plata Canyon Scenic Waterfalls Jeep Tour: $86
  • La Plata Canyon Exclusive Access Jeep Tour: $99
  • La Plata Mountains - Half Day Tour: $100
  • 4 Hours Durango Colorado - Jeep Tour : $102
  • 700 Year Tour - Half Day Mesa Verde Cultural Tour: $108

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Durango $30
    Columbia River Gorge $12


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Durango and Columbia River Gorge, we can see that Columbia River Gorge is more expensive. And not only is Durango much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Durango would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Durango 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 Durango.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Durango Expensive? and Is Columbia River Gorge Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Durango or Columbia River Gorge?

Durango has a larger population, and is about 30% larger than the population of Columbia River Gorge. When comparing the sizes of Durango and Columbia River Gorge, 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 along with the activities and attractions that interest you.