A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Durango vs. Rapid City for Attractions, Families, Hiking, and Couples

Should you visit Durango or Rapid City?

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 Rapid City. 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 charming, quaint, and scenic small town. You'll find plenty of local activities in this small town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. Because of its quaint atmosphere, it draws plenty of visitors, too. Visitors also love the hiking and museums.

Rapid City

Rapid City is a fascinating, activity-filled, and friendly city. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Durango and Rapid City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • 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 museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with couples
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to Mount Rushmore


Is there more to do in Durango or Rapid City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Rapid City. Although Durango and Rapid City are popular destinations, Rapid City has more sights and attractions for tourists. Rapid City is very popular for its museums, food, nightlife, and shopping, while Durango attracts visitors for its skiing, historical sights, small town charm, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere. Rapid City is more touristy than Durango and is known for its proximity to Mount Rushmore and many other iconic parks. It is also well known for Mount Rushmore. Durango is famous for its historic narrow gauge railroad, its charming small town atmosphere, and its many family-friendly activities.

How is Durango different from Rapid City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Durango or Rapid City Better for Skiing?

Durango
Rapid City

Durango is a decent place to visit for skiing and snowboarding. However, Rapid City is not a skiing destination.

Durango is a fun local destination for snow skiers. 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.

Rapid City is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Durango or Rapid City?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a world-class destination for its museums and history. Also, Durango is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Travelers visit Rapid City from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. You'll find a wide variety of museums and landmarks nearby. Popular places to visit that aren't far from town include the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, and the Journey Museum & Learning Center. There's also the Museum of Geology and the National Presidential Wax Museum. And of course, there's the iconic Mount Rushmore.

Durango offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. 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.

Is the Food Better in Durango or Rapid City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a good destination for its restaurants. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

There are plenty of up and coming restaurants around Rapid City. You'll find local restaurants in town that serve local specialties such as chislic (grilled meat), fry bread, and walleye (a local fish.

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 Rapid City Better for Nightlife?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a decent place to visit for nightlife. However, Durango is lacking in good options for nightlife and partying.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Rapid City. You'll find some places with live music and good drinks, but the city isn't really known for its nightlife scene.

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 Rapid City Better for its Old Town?

Durango
Rapid City

Durango is very good for its old town. However, Rapid City does not have a historic old town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy exploring the old town in Durango. 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."

Rapid City does not have a historic old town.

Is Durango or Rapid City Better for Hiking?

Durango
Rapid City

Hiking trails can be found around both Durango and Rapid City, and they are high quality.

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 Rapid City. The region is filled with national parks, state parks, and natural areas with wonderful hiking trails. You don't have to travel far to get into nature and experience some of South Dakota's best natural beauty.

Is the Shopping Better in Durango or Rapid City?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a good destination for shopping. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its shopping opportunities.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Rapid City. Rapid City has some interesting local shops as well as larger malls and shopping centers.

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 Rapid City Better for Christmas?

Durango
Rapid City

Durango is very good for its Christmas holiday experiences. However, Rapid City does not offer Christmas activities.

Christmas holiday activities are popular when visiting Durango. It is a great Christmas town where you can meet Santa, go skiing, and even take the Polar Express.

Rapid City does not offer Christmas activities.

Is Durango or Rapid City Better for Families?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Durango is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

With a huge array of activities for kids, Rapid City is very family-friendly. Nearby national parks and outdoor activities, this is the perfect base for exploring the area with kids. Nearby you'll find the Big Thunder Gold Mine, which has tours and lets you pan for gold, and Custer State Park, which is filled with wildlife. Wall Drug is worth a stopoff, as is Dinosaur Park.

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

Is Durango or Rapid City Better for Couples?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City is a very popular place for romance. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its romantic activities.

Rapid City makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples will enjoy the amazing national parks in the area and the easy access to iconic landmarks like Mount Rushmore. There are many opportunities for wildlife spotting as well as great hiking trails and unique landscapes.

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 Rapid City Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Durango
Rapid City

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

Rapid City is very popular with the backpacker crowd. Backpackers will appreciate the surrounding natural beauty and the nearby national parks.

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 Rapid City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Durango
Rapid City

Rapid City 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 Rapid City. While there are a few buses, this isn't a realistic option for traveling through the region.

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 Rapid City a more walkable city?

Durango
Rapid City

Durango and Rapid City are reasonable when it comes to walkability.

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

Rapid City is generally not very walkable. While the downtown is walkable, most visitors use the city as a base for exploring the surrounding areas, and this requires a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Durango Worth Visiting? and Is Rapid City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Rapid City or Durango?

How long in Durango or Rapid City?

It's fun to spend time in either Durango or Rapid City. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Rapid City due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Durango, and 2-4 days is enough time in Rapid City.

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

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Rapid City 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 Rapid City.


  • How many days in Durango or Rapid City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Durango 2-3 
    Rapid City 2-4

One day in Durango or Rapid City?

Durango might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Rapid City, you'll find museums and food. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. This city 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 Rapid City?

Even though Durango is a small town, it has plenty of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. It offers something for everyone. Many people spend a weekend here. In a weekend, you should have a good grasp of this small town.

In Rapid City, you'll find food and shopping. 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. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Rapid City has to offer.

Five days in Durango or Rapid City?

Durango, a popular small town, is full of activities for travelers. 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. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Rapid City 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 Rapid City?

Durango is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Rapid City. Many people enjoy the museums and food when visiting Rapid City. One reason most visitors come is for the museums. 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 Camping Tours in United States of America, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America, The Best Walking Tours in United States of America, and The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Rapid City 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 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 Durango and Rapid City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Durango $79
    Rapid City $60
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Durango $158
    Rapid City $120
Compare Hotels in Durango and Rapid City

Looking for a hotel in Durango 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 Durango


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: Durango Hotel Prices and Rapid City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Durango $27
    Rapid City $53

Is it cheaper to fly into Durango or Rapid City?

Prices for flights to both Rapid City 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
    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
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Durango $46
    Rapid City $26
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:

  • Scenic Waterfall's & Ghost Town Jeep Tour La Plata's~ 2.5 hours: $84
  • 12-Zipline Adventure in the San Juan Mountains near Durango: $173
  • 12-zipline Adventure in the San Juan Mountains near Durango: $173
  • 4 Hours Durango Colorado - Jeep Tour : $102
  • 6-Zipline Adventure in the San Juan Mountains near Durango: $140
  • 6-zipline Adventure in the San Juan Mountains near Durango: $140
  • 700 Year Tour - Half Day Mesa Verde Cultural Tour: $108
  • Colorado: Million Dollar Highway Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Durango 4 Hour Whitewater Rafting Adventures for All Levels: $97
  • Durango Jeep Tour — La Plata Canyon: $130
  • Durango Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Durango Rafting - Animas River Adventure Day: $185

Tours and Activities in Rapid City

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

  • Badlands National Park Private Tour: $650
  • Black Hills & Badlands: National Parks Driving Tour Bundle: $18
  • Buffalo Jeep Safari & Mammoth Site Tour: $700
  • Bus Tour of Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills: $133
  • From Badlands NP Full Monty Adventure: $399
  • From Private Devils Tower Tour and Hike: $650
  • From Private Spearfish Canyon Tour: $650
  • Full-Day Private Sightseeing Tour in South Dakota: $275
  • Mount Rushmore Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour: $15
  • Mount Rushmore and Black Hills Tour with Two Meals and a Music Variety Show: $164
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience in Rapid City SD: $15
  • Pactola Lake: Private Kayak or Paddleboard Experience: $650

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Durango $30
    Rapid City $6.93


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Durango and Rapid City, we can see that Durango 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 Durango would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Durango than you might in Rapid City.

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


Which is Bigger, Durango or Rapid City?

Rapid City has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Durango. When comparing the sizes of Durango and 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 along with the activities and attractions that interest you.