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Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Rochester, NY
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Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

My husband and I are going to spend about a week in the Black Hills/Badlands area of South Dakota. We thought we'd then go to Glacier National Park and perhaps the Canadian side as well.

Time is not necessarily a problem but we're wondering if driving is worth it or whether we should fly out of Rapid City to another location and rent a car..

We are at the beginning of planning our trip so any suggestions will be helpful.

Thanks so much! We use AND contribute our insights on TripAdvisor and appreciate the helpful information.

Kathy

Bemidji, Minnesota
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1. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

How will you be getting to the Black Hills? Flying? Driving your own car?

It's about 750 miles from Rapid City to the east entrance to Glacier. It could be done in a day but I'd recommend you stop over somewhere instead to make the trip more enjoyable. If you fly in to Rapid City and rent a car to drop off in Kalispell where you might fly out of to get back home the drop off charge is likely to be pretty high. If you plan to take a rental car into Canada, make sure the rental agreement allows this or you could be stopped at the border.

Rochester, NY
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104 posts
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2. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Yes, we (two adults over 60, no kids or grandkids) will be flying from Rochester, NY to Rapid City and renting a car there. Actually the rates were better than flying to Kalispell and renting another car, plus I'm thinking we might want to make stops along the way after leaving Custer National Park. Maybe 2 or 3 days.......... I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on the viability of this. Perhaps Deadwood, Spearfish, Belle Fourche........ Other thoughts for N. D. and Montana?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Interestingly, it's cheaper for us to fly from Kalispell to Las Vegas for a few days then home to Rochester then it is to fly direct from Kalispell. Go figure.

Thanks again,

Kathy

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Great ideas but you are so close to Yellowstone and if you have the time then spend some time there too. You will not be disappointed. Be aware of one way car rental prices. You might check them out before making your airfare.

You could do Black Hills- order a travel planner at www.travelsd.com- then drive to Yellowstone for 3-4 days and up to Glacier and fly out of Kalispell or Spokane.

Or you could do Black Hills- drive up to Glacier- then back to Yellowstone- and fly out of Billings, Bozeman, Jackson or Salt Lake City.

If you decide to include Yellowstone- here is a list of the must sees-

www.yellowstone.net/topten

We've done Black Hills and Yellowstone together and flew in and out of Denver. We've also done Glacier and Yellowstone together but flew into Spokane and out of Billings.

Just some ideas to include in your planning.

Rochester, NY
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104 posts
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4. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

We spent 2 weeks at Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, etc., 2 years ago, 3 weeks in the southwest this past fall and thought we'd spend several weeks this fall in the Black Hills/Badlands/Glacier National Park area. But I can see why you'd suggest Yellowstone. It was the most amazing area we've ever been to. But, before repeating, we want to see other national parks and sites near by.

If you have thoughts on what to see between the two parks, we'd love to hear your suggestions.

Kathy

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Great- what to see between Black Hills and Glacier-

Devils Tower in eastern Wyoming

Battle of Little Bighorn near Billings, MT

stop in Polson and drive along western side of Flathead lake on way to Glacier- it is a beautiful drive.

Bemidji, Minnesota
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6. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

If you are going to drive, the easy way is to take i-90 from the Black Hills all the way to Butte, MT and catch I-15 to Shelby and then highway 2 to Browning and highway 89 to the east entrance to Glacier. I think it's a bit boring too and doesn't show you what Montana is about, the farms, the ranches, the timber, and the mountains. I'd suggest you take I-90 (with stops at Devils Tower and Little Bighorn) to Big Timber in the interest of saving some time and then getting off to a good highway that isn't interstate. I'd go north on 191 to where it intersects highway 87, turn left on that toward Great Falls. At Great Falls I'd go north on I-15 to Vaughn and turn onto highway 89 and take that all the way to Glacier. This won't be much, if any, slower route because it is shorter by about 75 miles.

If you are returning to the Black Hills, take highway 2 east to Williston, ND and then south on highway 85. When you get to I-94 at Belfield, go west to Medora to see the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park (after visiting the north unit on your way down), then return to highway 85 south to Belle Fourche. Notice the difference as you pass through the Indian reservations along highway 2 and look at the fields of wheat, barley, canola, etc and realize where the food comes from to feed America. Make sure you have reservations for your overnight stops as the area around Williston is in an oil boom and most motels will be booked.

Asheville, North...
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7. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

We did that last summer. We spent several days in the Badlands/Black Hills area (you are so lucky to spend a week there; there was a lot we had to miss due to time constraints) and then drove to Glacier. We ended up spending the night in Gillette, WY after visiting Devils Tower in the evening and from there went to Great Falls to spend another night before heading to Glacier. I don't know that you'd want to go all the way from, say, Rapid City to Glacier. That would be a long day of driving.

We visited Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on the way. I don't know if you're into history, but that was an amazing place. The landscape is so pretty there and the museum was very well done. I thought it was interesting to go see where Custer's last stand took place since I'd heard so much about it in history class.

I personally enjoy driving more than flying; I think you see a lot more of our beautiful country by car. But I guess it depends on your budget and time. :)

montana
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8. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Be sure to heed RM-MN's advice about staying anywhere near Williston, SD. The oil boom there has made motel accommodations sky high and very hard to find. Same with any town within a 150 mile radius of Williston, including most towns in Eastern MT, like Sydney and Glendive. I was told yesterday that the Williston Walmart has over 128 nightly RV's parked in their lot (no other place to go) and that the Williston Walmart sells more stuff than any other Walmart. At least there's jobs there--just no places to live or stay.

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

The drive from east side of Glacier down thru Choteau, Helena, etc. is beautiful ranch land but not anywhere to stop for breaks, gas, etc. Just a heads up if you take that route- that is why we like the route from west side of Glacier- much more scenic imo thru Polson and Flathead lake.

Rochester, NY
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10. Re: Custer National Park to Glacier National Park - fly or drive

Thanks so much for all your suggestions! Greatly appreciated. Right now we are in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and our WiFi has been sporatic so it's been a while since I've been on TripAdvisor.

We will heed all your advice and most likely spend 2 or 3 nights on the route from the Badlands area to Glacier. We know we most likely won't be in this particular area again so we're hoping to have a good feel for this part of our country in the 2.5 or so weeks we are there.

We are big tripadvisor people and also write about our impressions of b&b's, hotels, restaurants, etc., when we return.

Kathy