Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge, 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.
South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is the largest town on the famous Lake Tahoe that straddles the California-Nevada border in the Sierra Mountain Range. Located just south of Reno, Nevada and about 2 hours east of Sacramento, the Lake Tahoe area is easily accessible to many visitors.
Lake Tahoe is known for skiing and other winter sports, as well as plenty of warm weather activities such as hiking, swimming, boating, mountain biking, and more.
South Lake Tahoe has plenty of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shopping. This is a good town to base yourself if you're looking to explore the area, as it has a large number of amenities.
Located on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe is the town of Stateline. Here you can find some casinos, as gambling is legal in Nevada.
If you're looking to go skiing or snowboarding, the Heavenly Ski Resort can be found on the southern edge of the town of South Lake Tahoe. Naturally, more ski resorts are located around the lake as well.
As swimming is also popular, several beach areas are on the southern section of the lake including the Regan Memorial City Beach, Lakeside Beach, Pope Beach, Emerald Bay State Park, and the Edgewood Resort area (on the Nevada side).
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.
Which city is cheaper, Columbia River Gorge or South Lake Tahoe?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in South Lake Tahoe is $94, while the average daily cost in Columbia River Gorge is $143. 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 South Lake Tahoe and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.
A hotel room in South Lake Tahoe is about $86 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
A hotel room in Columbia River Gorge is about $142 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
Hotel or hostel for one person
South Lake Tahoe $43
Columbia River Gorge $71
Typical double-occupancy room
South Lake Tahoe
Columbia River Gorge
On average, meal and food prices in South Lake Tahoe cost around $30 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $12.
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.
Meals for one day
South Lake Tahoe $30
Columbia River Gorge $37
The average price of local transportation around South Lake Tahoe is $20 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
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.
Is it cheaper to fly into South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge?
Prices for flights to both Columbia River Gorge and South Lake Tahoe 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.
South Lake Tahoe's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $45 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
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.
Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:
Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley: Full-Day Narrated Bus Tour:
Full-Day Lake Tahoe Circle Tour including Squaw Valley:
Virginia City Day Tour From Lake Tahoe:
Wine and Harvest Tour to Gold country from Lake Tahoe:
Happy Hour Cruise:
Sightseeing Cruise of Emerald Bay:
Emerald Bay Helicopter Tour of Lake Tahoe:
2 Hour Small Group Sailing Cruise Lake Tahoe:
Lake Tahoe: Half-Day Photographic Scenic Tour:
Lake Tahoe Ultimate Photography Scenic Half-Day Tour in Small-Group:
Zephyr Cove Helicopter Tour:
Yosemite National Park: Full-Day Tour from Lake Tahoe:
The average person spends about $28 on alcoholic beverages in South Lake Tahoe per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
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.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between South Lake Tahoe and Columbia River Gorge, we can see that Columbia River Gorge is more expensive. And not only is South Lake Tahoe much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to South Lake Tahoe would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe.
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