A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America South Lake Tahoe vs. Columbia River Gorge for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge, 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: South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge?

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 place 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 $118, 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 South Lake Tahoe and Columbia River Gorge in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    South Lake Tahoe $54
    Columbia River Gorge $89
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    South Lake Tahoe $108
    Columbia River Gorge $178
Compare Hotels in South Lake Tahoe and Columbia River Gorge

Looking for a hotel in South Lake Tahoe 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 South Lake Tahoe

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: South Lake Tahoe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    South Lake Tahoe $24
    Columbia River Gorge $78

Hired Cars and Shuttles in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific examples of transportation prices in South Lake Tahoe:

  • Heavenly Mountain to Reno Tahoe Airport RNO - Departure Transfer: $109
  • Departure Transfer Northstar/Squaw Valley to Reno Tahoe Airport: $164
  • Heavenly Mountain to Sacramento Airport SMF, Departure Transfer: $219
  • Northstar/Squaw Valley to Sacramento Airport - Departure Transfer: $219
  • Reno Tahoe Airport to Northstar/Squaw Valley-Round-Trip Transfer: $328

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.

  • Food Meals for one day
    South Lake Tahoe $38
    Columbia River Gorge $46

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    South Lake Tahoe $56
    Columbia River Gorge $20

Tours and Activities in South Lake Tahoe

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for South Lake Tahoe are as follows:

  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Audio Tour From Tahoe City to Incline Village: $9.99
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour from South Lake Tahoe to Tahoe City: $12
  • Driving Lake Tahoe: A Self-Guided Tour From Incline Village to South Lake Tahoe: $12
  • Ultimate Lake Tahoe Self-Guided Driving Audio Tour: $13
  • Lake Tahoe: Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $15
  • Lake Tahoe: Self-Guided Driving Tour: $25
  • Introductory Snowshoe Shared Experience: $55
  • Tahoe National Forest Moonlight Snowshoe Tour Under a Starry Sky: $60
  • Full Day Self-Guided Bike Tour of Lake Tahoe: $69
  • Guided Tour of Historic Virginia City and Carson City from South Lake Tahoe: $70
  • Sunset Kayak Experience in Lake Tahoe: $75
  • Kayak Tour of Historic Lake Tahoe West Shore: $80

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    South Lake Tahoe $34
    Columbia River Gorge $12

Sample the Local Flavors in South Lake Tahoe

Also in South Lake Tahoe, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Lake Tahoe: Emerald Bay Sunset Wine Tasting Yacht Cruise: $150

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.

Which is Bigger, South Lake Tahoe or Columbia River Gorge?

South Lake Tahoe is bigger, and its population is about 2.1 times larger than the population of Columbia River Gorge. When comparing the population of South Lake Tahoe vs. 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 and the activities that interest you.

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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South Lake Tahoe vs. Columbia River Gorge Travel Comparison

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