Most likely you have stumbled upon this page in a moment of panicked research because you just learned that a safe rental car to drive from the Bozeman Airport to Big Sky is likely more than the down payment of your first house. I wish I had some better news for you other than transportation to Big Sky is extremely expensive. There have been changes this past year with rental car and bus options, so stay tuned….
The Bozeman Airport is going bananas. The construction of a massive parking structure (that will allegedly be almost exclusive for rental cars), a new Central Valley Fire Station, a visit from Airforce One and a Trump Rally, a Mike Pence visit, FU 45 mowed into a field beneath the runway- and so much more!
Well, guess what, pretty much all the fancy improvements that the Bozeman Airport does are funded by the Airport Concession Fee. The airport requires rental car companies to charge renters 10% of their total car rental amount for rentals originating at the Bozeman Airport. So if the base price of your rental SUV is $2,000, count on an additional $200 going to BZN. In many ways this is great for our community as the airport doesn’t take tax dollars, funding (last time I checked) something like 70% of annual budget from rental car concession fees. Great for the community, not so great for consumer. But let’s be honest, the prices you are paying at the ski resort are even more outrageous and all that is doing is making a private company wealthier. So kudos to BZN in this humble writers opinion.
YOU NEED FOUR WHEEL DRIVE TO GET TO BIG SKY IN THE WINTER.
Moving forward: daily rental rates for SUVs at BZN (that will most likely be four-wheel-drive, like Chevrolet Suburbans) are extremely high and not likely to go down. Rental car companies love the high prices, and the airport loves the high prices. Demand for four-wheel-drive rental SUVs is so high from the Yellowstone Club members, that price has seriously become a non-issue. Daily rates for prime ski season seem to be around $650/ day for a “Premium SUV”. This will most likely be a Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL, or Toyota Sequoia. None of the on-airport rental car companies will guarantee a four wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle. There is a very good chance it will be 4wd- but they will never, ever, guarantee it. If you do not need to move a fleet of people, smaller SUVs at the Bozeman Airport seem to be around $200/ day.
Note: Driving to Big Sky from Bozeman requires four wheel drive or all wheel drive. You might get lucky with a dry day and be OK in a 2WD car, or the weather may turn and you end up off the road and dead in the river. Snow tires greatly decrease your risk of accident in Big Sky.
ON AIRPORT RENTAL CARS AT THE BOZEMAN AIRPORT
Hertz is still the biggest player in the Bozeman Airport, but seems to have recently acquired a slew of unhappy reviews on Yelp. Thrifty, Enterprise, Avis- they all are there and seem to have the same cars and competitive pricing. Costcotravel.com is usually your best pricing. We have heard good things and bad things with Hotwire “surprise cars”. Great pricing, but sometimes you get a sweet Toyota Tacoma and sometimes a super crappy 2wd Ford Escape.
We do not have any main differentiators for the on-airport rental car companies. Most of the renters we speak with are totally happy with their on-airport experience. Some of them are not happy. It is worth checking out reviews on Yelp or Google and make your decision accordingly.
Pro: Vehicles are on-airport. Usually a fast experience getting on the road.
Con: Vehicles are on-airport. Can be a LONG icey walk to a cold car covered in snow (hence new parking garage). Count on 10% concession fee. Lines at the counter to get car can also get long when flight delays happen. You never really know what kind of rental car you are going to get.
Sometimes it is worth calling the actual desk in Bozeman Airport and talking with a human:
If you haven’t noticed, Alamo and Thrifty are the same. Avis and Budget same. Hertz, Dollar are same.
OFF AIRPORT RENTAL CARS AT THE BOZEMAN AIRPORT
The Off-Airport rental car segment continues to grow at BZN. Journey Rentacar (AKA Ace Rent a Car) and Explore Rentals continue to be the main players. Toyota Rent-A-Car (AKA Ressler Toyota) does a great job with the full line of Toyotas. Yellowstone Car Rentals is part of one of the Vacation Home Rental companies and offers rental Suburbans to its home renters. Rocky Mountain Expeditions rents Jeeps, and I guess does a pretty good job. The new kids on the block are Bozeman Rental Cars, they seem to rent more of the ‘cheaper’ alternatives. Hatch Adventures has followed the Explore Rentals model of offering rental outdoor gear.
Bozeman Car Rentals. 10.3 miles. Brand new, no history. 406-587-0933.
Explore Rentals: Locally owned. 1.2 miles from BZN. Uber/Lyft/Taxi about $13. They are all about guaranteed AWD and Four Wheel Drive cars, and snow tires. Subaru Outbacks, Toyota Tacomas, Chevrolet Suburbans, and Mercedes 12-passenger vans. They have been around the longest for the locally owned companies and have the best reviews. 406-922-0179
Hatch Adventures. No address listed. Brand new, no history. 406-223-4224.
Journey/ Ace Rent A Car: Locally owned with a Franchise associated. 10-miles from BZN. Uber/ Taxi ride about $40 if you want to avoid BZN concession fee. Hyundai, Jeep, Dodge for SUVs. Ford Expeditions or Suburbans for large SUVs. 406-551-2277
Toyota Rent-A-Car/ Ressler. Locally owned TRAC franchise. 14-miles from airport. All new Toyotas, solid service. $50 or so Uber Ride. 406-585-2010
Conclusion: We like local businesses! Plus, all of the Bozeman off-airport rental car companies have overall more positive reviews than on-airport rental car agencies.
For getting around locally, and sometimes you can even squeeze a driver into going to Big Sky; Uber and Lyft are working well. We generally prefer Lyft as they are not quite as evil as Uber corporate. Gallatin Valley Taxi is also a decent bet for the non-tech saavy out there. Vexi Ride, sadly, seems to no longer exist.
Bus and Shuttle Service to Big Sky:
Karst Stage: They have been around forever. Best option for moving large groups, not cheap. 406-556-3540
Shuttle to Big Sky and Taxi: Moves A LOT of people to Big Sky. 406-995-4895
Big Sky Shuttle Inc.: “Five Star Luxury” whatever that means. Maybe a fancier bottle of water than your Uber driver? 866-661-6836
North of Yellowstone: NKOTB. They are listed on the BZN Official Website. It looks like they specialize in more the long-haul trips to Yellowstone or Big Sky. 406-580-2286
So what is the best way to get to Big Sky from the Bozeman Airport?
Easy, private helicopter! Rental cars cost more, but give maximum flexibility. Just please, please make sure you get a Four Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive vehicle. If you can get one with snow tires, even better. There are two many white crosses along side the road to Big Sky already.
Back in February, Matt Shirley from Flip Collective created a map of the United States based on search autocomplete. It was then featured here on Buzzfeed. While other states had descriptions like, “Broke”, “Over-rated” and “Bankrupt”, Montana stood out above the crowd with, “For Badasses”. There is even Facebook page dedicated to it here.
Montana is filled with bodies of water perfect for a wide variety of outdoor recreation. Missoula, Montana has three rivers that run through town and is the setting for the 1876 fly-fishing novella by Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it. The book was made into an American film in 1992 directed by Robert Redford starring Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer and Tom Skerritt. A River Runs Through It is a story of two boys growing up in Montana with a love for fly-fishing. Norman Maclean said it best in the book, “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.”
Montana boasts a total of 32 breweries, which puts us second (behind Vermont) in number of breweries per capita. In other words, we know our beer. Plus, with locally crafted beer with names like Moose Drool, Trout Slayer, Face Plant and Pig’s Ass Porter, you know our beer is as inspiring as Montana’s wide-open spaces.
Montana is home to two national parks–Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Both are filled with beautiful landscapes, wildlife and outdoor recreation galore. These two beauties often find themselves on the bucket list for travelers.
6. Four Seasons
Montana has all four of the original divisions of the year as determined by Mother Nature. We don’t have a “mudslide season” or a “tornado season” and the hurricanes are too far off to reach us.
Above is a photo taken in the University District in downtown Missoula, Montana. (Hot diggity dog, right?)That’s just one of the four beautiful seasons we get to experience. See more photos of Montana’s four seasons here.
Casey Anderson adopted a grizzly bear named Brutus and now they are best friends. Brutus was even the best man at Casey’s wedding. Find out more about the manbear bromance here.
8. “The Last Best Place”
Our tagline: The “Last Best Place.” Because around here, life is the way it should be. Enjoyed simply, lived fully and celebrated to the max.
Senator Max Baucus says that the US Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to permanently deny any trademark application for the well-known Montana slogan, “The Last Best Place”. One trip to Montana and you will too understand why anyone else is allowed to use the slogan. And chances are, you’ll be using it too.
Even celebrities seek refuge in Montana. Last winter Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel got engaged in Montana, according to E! Online. Even John Mayer decided to take some time and recover in Montana. During his time in Montana he redeemed himself after admitting he had been a jerk when he performed for a charity concert raising over $100,000 for local firefighters.
Not to mention many celebrities seek out summer homes in the Big Sky Country. Although many celebrities keep their secluded vacation spots a secret, locals know who those mansions on the lake shores belong to.
Back in February a Great Falls, Montana TV station’s emergency alert system was hacked and warned viewers in select counties that dead bodies are rising from their graves. The station later reported that there was no emergency, and that they are still investigating what happened.
Side note: If there ever is a zombie attack, you’ll be in good hands with our rowdy Montana residents. Montana if full of manly men (they don’t call it Mantana for nothing), sassy women and a lot of moxie.
Give Montana Your Vote
Missoula, Montana is up against Huntsville, Alabama to host the Social Media Tourism Symposium 2013 in the final round. Voting is open until 8pm, MST TODAY (April 2, 2013). Vote here on Facebook.
And while Hunstville, Alabama has a metro population of around 500,000 AKA half of our entire state’s population, Montana has heart.
Voting is now closed. A big thank you to everyone who voted.
What is the best car rental agency in Bozeman, reviews
We decided to do a little research on publicly posted reviews of the car rental agencies in Bozeman. Most of what we can find is via Yelp.com and Google Places/ Local. Below you will find copied text directly from Yelp and Google (and wherever else available) as well as screen shots and links. Please note these were all captured 2/13/13, and of course subject to change. Use as you see fit. We will soon do another post comparing the pricing of all rental car agencies in Bozeman.
If one is to judge reviews posted on the internet, here are the results. 1) Phasmid Rentals. TOTAL: 63-points
Budget Rent-A-Car”I get annoyed when you get to the counter of a rental car place only to find out that they don’t have the type of car you reserved and payed for. I had paid for a full size car only to be greeted with a Chevy Cruz. Being on vacation and trying to go with the flow- I gave it a shot- even though I was pretty sure it was a compact car. It was, so I went back in to the counter. Matt at the desk was helpful, but still tried to tell me that was all that was available, and luckily a Chevy Impala had just gotten cleaned– a full size car was now mine for the week (thanks to Matt) just like I had reserved. I would not call the car clean, but after I wiped down the inside we were good to go.” Yelp reviews Budget, Bozeman
Here is the lone posted Google review of Budget Rent A Car Bozeman:
“We had a confirmation for a Grand Cherokee 4WD or similar. We got a Hyundai Santa Fe which is a boring car in all repects (and sold new at a lower price than the Grand Cherokee). Budget argued that both cars were in the same category and that they had no alternative to offer. We were extremely disappointed, especially after having rented a Grand Cherokee from Budget in Toronto the day before. We’ll think twice before renting from Budget again.”
Hertz is by far the biggest rental car agency at the Bozeman Airport. At one stage (not sure if it is true anymore), Bozeman was Hertz’s most profitable franchise in the entire Northwest. Anyway, here are the Yelp reviews of Hertz Bozeman:
There are some very shocking reviews/ statements of the Bozeman Airport Hertz franchise. Overall of 7-reviews gained a 2-star average. Here is an excerpt from one: “I will never rent from this Hertz location again. My friends and I rented a car from here. We had a 7:00am flight out of the airport, and so we arrived at the airport at ~5:45am and left the car in the designated off hours rental car drop off area. The desk wasn’t open (which it should have been at that time as the security line was already ~30 minutes long for a very normal time for a morning flight – 7am…). When we arrived home, we received a call saying that we left the car with thousands of dollars of damage, which is absolutely false. Another car in the parking lot must have hit us or something.
The parking lot either has no security cameras (which can’t be the case…it’s an airport where security is critical!), or Hertz is just too lazy to pull the tapes, so we are helpless to make a case. Completely ridiculous. Very poor management. No way I ever rent from these guys again.”
There are numerous reviews listed on Yelp of Hertz BZN charging for damage that the renters did not do to the vehicle as well as being overcharged at the rental counter.
There is one review posted via Google: A Google User reviewed 11 months ago
Very good customer service! Rented cars here two separate times during a vacation. Both reservations were for compact cars. I received a Subaru the first time, and the second, a brand new Camaro and didn’t have to pay a penny more! Fun and unexpected way to spend my last two days in Bozeman. Only downside is the limited mileage policy. Very nice service representatives.”
This company shows no loyalties towards its long time returning customers. Everytime I rent from them they come up with some bogus charge days after I return the car. I would advise anybody looking to rent a car to go elsewhere.
Was just notified 2 days after I returned my rental car that I am being charged for a rock chip in the window…this will be the last time I or or company ever rent with National/Alamo
I’ve heard from multiple sources that these guys will look to nickel and dime you every way they can. I would advise you to take your business elsewhere!!
Quality Poor to fair
Shady business practices. Charged me for something several days after I returned my car. “We noticed it a few days later.” Thank you for being the worst place to rent from!”
Thrifty at the Bozeman Airport was certainly once thought to be a very strong franchise. We found 2-reviews on Yelp for Thrifty Car Rentals Bozeman. One of these in particular, is pretty rough:
“Don’t do it. I like the poeple who run the joint but Thrifty Rent A Car are unethical and ruthless.
I rented a car and got a flat tire driving on the highway. No off road, no dougnuts in the driveway. When I returned the car the staff said no problem and had me fill out an incident report.
I’ve since received a bill for a new tire and “administrative fees”!
What!!!!!!!!! Your tire blows out and I have to pay for it? Why am I responsible for normal wear and tear on your vehicle? Even if I do have to pay for the tire what about the 20,000 miles it had on it? Why do I have the privilege of buying a new tire and paying you an admin fee on top of that?
Would my family have to pay for my funeral AND the tire if I went off the road from the blowout? Can they charge you an admin fee from the funeral home?
I’ve since checked to see if I’m responsible for this on the web and, to be fair, the results are mixed. However the overwhelming number of complaints on http://www.consumeraffai… from rental companies are about Thrifty.
Local owner dude you are probably O.K. but find another company franchise because Thrifty are scumbags.”
Google Reviews, Thrifty BZN:
“Overall Poor to fair
I have never taken the time to right a review before, but given the negative experience I felt compelled. I travel to Bozeman often on business and have found it convenient to pick up a rental at the airport. I have used Thrifty because my company has a great rate with them. I called today to extend my rental two days and was told “no way…I need that car back at 4pm”. When I asked why the manager could not extend she said “…its Labor Day weekend we are over booked and that rate is way too low”. I’m not objecting to Thrifty making money – but don’t treat a customer poorly b/c you didn’t manage your reservations properly. How about suggesting other rental car companies that might have availability? Her rude behavior has insured that I won’t ever use Thrifty again (in Bozeman and elsewhere) and I spend 70-80% of my time on the road.”
Avis is the second largest franchise at the Bozeman Airport next to Hertz, even though still roughly half the size. Overall one star from Yelp and Poor to Fair from Google. They only have one review listed on Yelp for Avis Bozeman, Airport. Granted, not a good review: “Avoid at all costs. The most uncooperative staff I have ever dealt with.” However, being that they are the second biggest at BZN and only have 1-review is maybe a good sign? Looking at the lone posted Google Review, one may think differently.
“AVIS Rental Car in Bozeman Montana Airport, is seriously the worst rental experience in my life. I had a reservation that was made through my insurance company for a Premium Car, when I arrived to get the car I got a Mid Size car, which I would classify as a compact car. A Chevy Cruze. When I called two days before the reservation to find out what type of car I was getting I was told a Lincoln Town Car or Cadillac. This was a far cry from one of those. I have 3 children I need to haul around town, plus two huge band instruments including a Tuba. Monday was fun taking the kids to school. I went to return the car two days early stating that I had to rent something else because it was not big enough I didn’t get a I am sorry or hello or anything. I got a lady in the office making faces at me and the young guy at the counter not saying a word. Just typing something into the computer and then giving me my paper work. I then went next door to the Enterprise counter and rented a bigger vehicle. From the very beginning I never got a hello how are you, how is your day, I got nothing. To be treated rudely and then to be placed in an unwanted car was just unexceptable.”
Phasmid Rentals is an off-airport rental car agency located about a mile east of the Bozeman Airport. They are an independent rental car agency in business since 2010. Phasmid rents Chevrolet Suburbans and Subaru Outbacks only. Both new vehicles and used vehicles. Phasmid Rentals is the only Yelp listed review for Bozeman that is positive. Two Yelp reviews are listed, both 5-stars. Additionally, we noticed on their Yelp review page that they had numerous ‘filtered reviews‘. Upon entering the Captcha code we found 11 additional reviews for Phasmid Rentals. 10 were 5-star reviews, 1 was a 4-star review.
Here is one Yelp review:” This is an excellent company. They will not only rent you a clean, new, vehicle (I had an Outback which was like new) but also any gear you need. Fishing rods, coolers, tents, bear spray and prob anything else you need.
Nice personal touch as you will be picked up at baggage claim and don’t have to deal with an anonymous corporation. The owner, Will, is also an excellent source of info for your trip/vacation.
All at competitive prices. I will use again.”
Looking at Google reviews, there seems to be the same positive thoughts for this rental car company.
“I really want to help see this business grow, because Bozeman Rental Cars/ Phasmid is hands down the best rental car agency I have ever used. I rent from them pretty regularly for business and am always pleased with the Subaru Outback they give me, the fact they know my name and have a super easy contract, there is no waiting in line, no going through the airport hassle, etc. This is the way renting a car should be!”
“Way better than any franchise experience, and a great locally owned company.”
Ressler Rentals is a Toyota Rent-a-Car franchise based about 12-miles south of the Bozeman Airport. They offer all new models of Toyota vehicles to rent, with airport delivery service. Although they do not have any Yelp reviews, they do have numerous positive reviews on Google, both with an Excellent overall rating:
“Ressler is such a great place to rent cars in Bozeman! I rent regularly for business and the service is always excellent! The cars are also in great shape and price is a good value, especially compared to the options at the airport!”
“Tanya was great made sure my rental was ready to go for my vacation and that i could easily drop it off when i was heading out of time…”
Journey Rent-a-Car is the newest off-airport rental car agency in Bozeman. They are located roughly 10-miles south of Bozeman Airport at the Carriage House car wash. Journey rents used vans, cars (example Chevy Malibu), and Suburbans. They offer airport shuttle service. Although no Yelp reviews have been made (no Yelp listing was even found for their business), they have very positive Google reviews as well.
“Excellent experience. The best value for a large SUV and the reservation process was seamless. They were at the airport when we arrived and brought us back at our convenience. They had the paperwork ready when we got to their so I just signed and was on my way. GREAT JOB!! Will defeinitely use them again on our next visit.”
“Journey Rentacar was great. Incredibly accommodating to my schedule for both the pick up and the drop off. Very helpful in adding a ski pod to the top of the car at the last second. Very well priced. Would definitely recommend to anyone i know needing a car in the area. Thank you again”
“Journey Rentacar was outstanding to work with! Josh was super helpful to our hunting crew and we got the best rates around on a Ford 12 person Van. Thanks Journey!”
Journey, 30 Homestake Dr. Bozeman, Mt 59718(406) 551-2277
Enterprise has a location at the Bozeman Airport and also an off-airport location downtown. Recently, Expedia and other search engines are positing ‘Shuttle to location’ via rental car searches for BZN. Their off-airport location is just west of downtown Bozeman on Main Street, about 14-miles from BZN. Enterprise does not have any Yelp reviews. However, seemingly like the other franchise rental car agencies in Bozeman, has negative Google reviews, although they do also have one positive review. Enterprise Airport does not have Yelp or Google reviews.
“Watch out for this company!!! We live in Bozeman, Mt. After renting a vehicle recently at the Main Street location, we were told that we couldn’t have “unlimited miles” and would only be allowed 200 miles a day with 25 cents for each mile over, because of a new law in montana, we were also told that none of the companies in Montana were offering unlimited mileage. We trusted the agent but after checking with the other car rental companies in the area we found out that the Enterprise agent was lying to us. All of the other car rental companies offered free unlimited miles and told us there is no such law. We will never rent from Enterpise again. Please be careful if you decide to do business with these people.”
“I needed a rental for several days while my California car was being repaired here in Bozeman after it broke down while touring Yellowstone. After having the car towed to Bozeman, I rented a Bozeman Enterprise car on Sat., available only for two days. It had to be returned 8 AM on Mon, which I did. I was promised at the time, (and on the very first day by female Rep.) a second car would be available for me today, Tues. I called this morning (Tues) for a pickup at my near-by hotel but was told by the male Rep there was no record of my reservation and that no car would be available for me until Wed afternoon at best. Not only did they screw this up, but to add insult to injury, the Rep didn’t even offer an apology for the inconvenience. I even had to press him to put my name down for the very next available car if one was returned today. In contrast, everyone else I’ve had to deal with since my car’s breakdown in Yellowstone has been friendly, helpful, efficient and considerate of my circumstances.”
“I rent A LOT of rental cars,(travel for my job)Therefor I have used just about every company out there. Enterprise is The BEST by far. They have great service and honest people who will take the time to look for what is best for THEIR customers. I ALWAYS refer my friends and family to rent from the Main street office in Bozeman MT. So, if your coming for a visit our beautiful state, or just need a car for a day..Enterprise Rental car’s are the one to call. A Loyal Customer A.N. Flores P.S the airport Location Also has great service too.”
Enterprise Airport 850 Gallatin Field Rd #7 Bozeman, MT 406-388-7420
1238 W MAIN ST
BOZEMAN, MT 59715-3254
Tel.: (406) 586-8010
There are no Yelp reviews for Alamo’s Bozeman Airport location. Their are two Google reviews posted for Alamo, both with a Poor to Fair rating. “Was just notified 2 days after I returned my rental car that I am being charged for a rock chip in the window…this will be the last time I or or company ever rent with National/Alamo”
“Quality Poor to fair”
Alamo 5 Gallatin Field Rd Belgrade, MT 59714 406-388-4457
We are pretty they exist as they have paid their concession fees to the Bozeman Airport, however, we cannot find any reviews on Yelp or Google for the Bozeman Airport Location. They are the smallest on-airport rental car agency at BZN, posting only a 2.2% market share. Perhaps with the reviews of other on-airport rental car agencies, no news is good news.
Dollar Car Rental
850 Gallatin Field Road,
We have been hearing about it for a while now, and rumor has it construction will start soon. A recent conversation with Belgrade Chamber of Commerce divulged the construction plans for a new I-90 straight into BZN interchange. The plan looks likes it will cross through the TMC Gravel Pit (where will all the roosting geese go?) and straight into the current airport entrance. Meanwhile, a temporary road will be built west of the airport.
How will this effect the airport and surrounding businesses? Well, traffic on Frontage road, Bozeman to BZN will certainly decrease. I would venture a guess for residents of downtown Bozeman, taking the 7th street exit to Frontage Rd to the Airport will still be the best option. Those west of town, in the sprawl behind 19th may take Valley Center to Alaska to the airport? Certainly, those coming from West of the airport (all 12 of them) will use the new exit, because let’s be honest, the Amsterdam Road through Belgrade exit takes all of 5-minutes. Clearly the $37-million interchange is of less value…
We all know majority of airport users are heading right down Jackrabbit to Big Sky and West Yellowstone. Maybe they will use the new interchange to hop on I90, drive 1-mile (dodging 70-mph Semis), and then exit off to Jackrabbit?
At one stage we heard the Federal Government pulled $5-million of funding, however, it seems everything is back on track. As it was explained to us, TMC will get there own direct gravel pit access (great news as having their trucks pull out onto Frontage rd can be terrifying), the Railroad will lose 2-whistle stops, and BZN gets a direct portal from the highway.
The airport authority is posting $3-million to this project, and they are likely the only benefiting parties. All for the creation of jobs, but building for the sake of building isn’t the most logical move in this humble servants opinion. I would think that $3-million, heck the $37-million, would be much better spent on advertising and promotion of Bozeman as a tourist destination!
Information and resources for visitors to BZN, Bozeman, Big Sky, and Yellowstone