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It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

San Diego...
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It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

Hi -

We are a group of 3 (29, 31 & 60), planning to visit Glacier National Park in June/July/August. We're thinking about flying into Kalispell airport & arriving late Friday night (11pm) & flying out on Monday night (6pm) - just 3 days since we couldn't get more time-off. The rental cars cost about $60/day & it seems only Alamo & Enterprise have availability. If we're staying at a hotel with an airport shuttle, is it possible for us to skip getting a rental car & still be able to explore many sights at GNP with a shuttle or local bus? If not, maybe just rent out a car for 1 day?

Rom

7 replies to this topic
USA
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1. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

It is difficult and time consuming to get around GNP without a car. With such a short trip, I think you'll want to maximize your time, not spend it waiting around for a shuttle bus, taxi, etc. Check out Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty (offsite) for more rental options. In most cases, you can book a car now with free cancellation, and keep checking back to see if the price drops before your trip.

There is a free shuttle bus that operates along the Going-to-the-Sun Rd that starts running on July 1 (or when the road is fully open). There are also two paid hiker's shuttles on the east side through Xanterra and Glacier Park Inc (which now is called Glacier Park Collection?). Use the following links to see the 2017 schedules (should be similar for 2018) and prices.

https:/…shuttles.htm

glaciernationalparklodges.com/red-bus-tours/…

https:/…

You would probably have to take a taxi from your hotel to Apgar and back. It would be VERY difficult (maybe impossible) to get to Many Glacier for a day using the free/paid shuttle combo, and that's a must-see area of the park. I'd suggest putting together a sample itinerary (and cost) using the timelines above for a day without a car, and see if it looks doable to you.

What activities do you want to do in GNP?

Also, consider staying closer to the park. Somewhere with an airport shuttle will be at least a 45 minute one-way drive to the west park entrance. Lots of the best hiking and scenery is on the east side of the park, even farther away. You'll be able to spend more time in the park if you stay at one of the in-park properties, or in a nearby town like West Glacier or St. Mary. If it were me, I'd change lodging once or twice to minimize driving:

Friday night - near airport

Saturday night - St. Mary

Sunday night - St. Mary or Many Glacier

Spokane, Washington
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for Glacier National Park, Spokane
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2. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

With that short a time, and if Glacier is the target, I would rent a car so you control your schedule the entire time. The park does have a shuttle service, once you get to the park (not sure of any hotel shuttles in the towns that take you to the park) , but they have been VERY busy and wait times at some stops are long. If the weather turns, you could be stuck waiting and exposed. In addition, to get to the best of the park, Many Glacier, it is already a long drive and trying to access that part of the park via shuttle would be crazy. Glacier has much to offer with different terrains, climate and wildlife depending on your location. A car gives you the flexibility to see what you want, when you want and exercise your desires around dining and side attractions. Also, June is not the best time to visit glacier due to typically high snow levels and the chance that going to the sun is not yet open.

Kalispell, Montana
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for Glacier National Park, Santa Fe, Sedona
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3. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

Agreeing with all the above. Its extremely important to get your hotel reservations in line right now. This is an extremely short visit for all you will want to see and the travel through the park is not quick.

Friday...very late flight arrival...day used up. The new Country Inn and Suites MAY be completed by the time your trip arrives...that is AT the airport and would be ideal. Rent car the next morning. Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls as an alternative for the time being...will have a shuttle but you need to arrange that night and again in the morning to pick up your car. Book it and wait for the Country Inn Opening notice.

Use the Costco site to rent your car....even if not members, and you pay a small fee its cheaper than booking direct...same mainstream companies and same car choices. It does not have to be fancy...just big enough to hold you and your gear. https://www.costcotravel.com/Rental-Cars

Saturday & Sunday...Enjoy the entire GTTSR, stay in St Mary for 2 nights. Saturday used up by west side and GTTSR stops and hikes. Sunday drive over and visit Many Glacier. If you are hikers think of taking the 2 lake boat tour/ranger led hike to Grinnell Glacier. Otherwise enjoy the scenery and walk the nature trail around Swiftcurrent Lake or the short walk to see moose at Fishercap Lake

Monday... Late flight. Drive to the airport. First drive south from St Mary on the 89/49 and take the side drive into Two Medicine, the 2nd gem of the east side...gorgeous. After that head to East Glacier Park village and catch the #2 faster State route back to the airport. Watch the time.

.......................

Lodging in the CORE OF THE EAST SIDE of GNP where most of the hiking and most dramatic scenery is located.

At RISING SUN, an IN-PARK motorlodge and cabins just inside the East Gate.

In ST.MARY just BARELY OUTSIDE the East Gate: St. Mary Lodge complex, its Great Bear annex (the only one with TV, AC and fairly good WiFi), new cabins, two basic 50's style motels and now some very very small "tiny houses". Glacier Trailhead Cabins, The Cottages at Glacier (was called Pinnacle). Johnson’s and the new cabins at the KOA. It may not be MG but it is still beautiful around there and very centrally located for short visits.

.............

Now...begin to obtain reservations.

Just a hint...People jam the reservation lines first thing when it opens...if you do get connected, even then, the reservations can come up as totally booked for your dates.

Not to worry. When people get on the line first thing, they grab what ever comes up and sometimes double and triple book reservations in multiple places and then calm down and cancel later what actually does not fit their schedule. They may do that for trip plans in two different months even until they decide on when they can actually get their vacation leave settled.

Its not right and unfair really...but it happens all the time. As time passes after the first rush, cancellations tend to show up consistently and quite often. That is when you need to grab what shows up at least as your own plan B until what you really want for each day opens up. If it happens, relax a bit...you have an entire year to get lodging in place. Cancellation policies are very lenient up here...which actually causes the over booking in the first place but its nice if you do legitimately need to cancel your own plans later. Its easier to book a day at a time than to wait for a block of 2 or more nights to open up.Good luck....don't panic.

Dallas, TX
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4. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

check the website "priceline.com" for rental rates..... they have some in the "$30's per day" price range! with the precious little time that you have to see some of the park, dont waste a moment on a shuttle!

Dallas, TX
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5. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

also, wait until July or August to go - there is a chance that the Going to the Sun road wont be fully open in June - why risk it???

Whitefish, Montana
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6. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

Try Hotwire as well for rental cars. You will definitely need a car.

San Diego...
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7. Re: It is possible to do away with a rental car in July/August?

Sorry for getting back so late... Been traveling out of the country. I appreciate all your responses. Yes, we'll go ahead & rent a car. We'll consider extending our stay assuming we could find cheaper return flights in September :)

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