Do I need Four Wheel Drive rental car to drive from the Bozeman Airport to Big Sky in the winter? Yes.
This photo was taken while exiting the Bozeman Airport, from the car. The foreground is the road. The next 50+ miles to Big Sky will be worse. Please be safe and make sure you either have a rental car with 4WD or AWD and good tires, or your transportation company/ UBER/ LYFT has 4WD or AWD with good tires. Safety is a necessity in these condition!
In recent light of the international coverage of the black bear and cubs on the bridge in Yellowstone National Park, here is a video on how to correctly use bear spray.
The National Park Service highly recommends visitors to Yellowstone carry bear spray. It can be purchased from almost any sporting goods and most grocery stores in Southwest Montana for around $50/ canister. However, it is ILLEGAL to fly with bear spray, both in checked luggage or carry-on.
Another option is to rent bear spray.
There are a couple of reputable businesses that rent bear spray in Bozeman. Phasmid Adventure Rentals, located next to the Bozeman Airport is the first company in the US to rent bear spray and they have an excellent reputation.
This article has been extracted from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, author Jason Bacaj.
Bozeman Yellowstone Airport set for busiest summer yet
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is following up its first year as the busiest airport in Montana with what is being described as its busiest summer season yet.
About 500,000 people are expected to pass through the terminal outside Belgrade from May until September, said Brian Sprenger, airport director.
The bulk of departing passengers are expected to leave between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., as tweaks to different flight schedules and plane sizes have resulted in almost 800 seats scheduled to leave every morning in that half-hour span.
“It’s not a sleepy little airport by any means,” Sprenger said.
Sprenger recommended that people flying out at those times get to the airport 1 1/2 to 2 hours before takeoff to ensure all passengers make their flights.
Work building the new Interstate 90 interchange at Belgrade is going to change traffic patterns during the summer. Sprenger said the different traffic patterns “may surprise people,” which is another reason to give yourself extra time to get to the airport for an early morning flight.
“There are times in the year when you can certainly sleep in and make it to the airport an hour before departure and be fine, but that won’t be the case this summer,” Sprenger said. “We ask for everybody’s patience as we go through this process. This summer will be more difficult because of it, but we anticipate that all of it should be pretty much finished this year.”
Getting the most out of the best little airport in Montana, part 1.
Having now owned two businesses that service the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field, AKA Bozeman Airport, AKA BZN I have learned a couple of tips and tricks that friends often ask that we pass on to the consumer. In this short article we will go over some of our tricks for arriving passengers. Stay tuned for another article for departing passengers.
1) If the very bump, yet beautiful decent into Gallatin Valley hasn’t gotten you excited yet, certainly the lodge styling and comfortable atmosphere of the airport will. Where else are the advertisers in the airport Simms Fishing or various Fly Shops and not Siemens or Cisco? It is a fairly long walk to baggage claim and the signage is poor, just go with the flow and you will be fine. You will descend two escalators, or an available elevator, to baggage claim. Baggage claim is nearly central to the building structure.
You will be greeted by a roaring fire in the stone fireplace as well as numerous bronzes highlighting Montana’s unique history and ecosystems. This is where a member of the Phasmid team will meet you with a placard with your name. On this main floor the following concessions are available: Copper Horse Bistro. Fair coffee and the most expensive slice of frozen pizza imaginable. They also sell other beverages and some t-shirts. You are better off biding your time to get out of the airport. There is also a Montana Gift Corral, the sell bottled drinks and souvenir items. There is also a Yellowstone Association store. We highly recommend you pay a short visit here while waiting for your luggage.
Most visitors assume that the Yellowstone Association store is just another ridiculously priced airport tourist trap. This is not true. They offer excellent maps, naturalist guides, and journals regarding Yellowstone National Park. They are also staffed predominately by volunteers who are passionate about the Park and enjoy sharing information. The highlight of the shop is the interactive map they have. This map not only highlights where certain attractions are, but also has recent updates on where wolves and bears have recently been seen. For those spending longer than a couple of days in Yellowstone, it is highly recommended to become a member for $35.00. The discounts given on park lodging far exceed cost of membership.
Carrying on… While you are waiting for your bags- which are sometimes waiting for you before you get to baggage claim, other times seemingly take forever: you can also a) use the restrooms (located underneath the escalators). 2) Send one member of your party to start waiting in line for your rental car if you haven’t booked through Phasmid. 3) Take you picture with the giant bronze bear or T-Rex skull. 4) Check out the informative hands on mammal tracking exhibit next to baggage claim 2. 5) Collect some free rack cards at the outdated information kiosk. 5) all of the above- it is a pretty small airport after all.
If your bags did not arrive: Delta is currently the only company that has a designated lost luggage counter (maybe they lose more luggage than anyone else?). This counter is located by Carousel 1. For other airlines you will need to go to the ticket counter. These are on the west side of the building. If you are facing the baggage claims turn left. Although there may not be an attendant right away, they will come eventually. Over the years our guests who have had luggage lost have always had their luggage returned in a timely manner- no matter where they are. We have had people get a bag delivered to random campgrounds on the Madison river and cabins up Bridger Canyon. So do not fret too much. Anyway, Phasmid Rentals always keeps a supply of toothbrushes and extra clothes/ gear on hand for those who are dealt a raw deal.
So now you have your bags: a) If you rented from Phasmid your team member will help you with the bags to your rental car waiting right out front (no need for a $5 cart hire or anything else).
b) If you did not rent from Phasmid: Head east young man! The rental car counters are on the east side of the building. If you have a family and/ or lots of luggage, wait in baggage claim and send the leading renter to the rental car counters only. It will likely be 10-30 minutes so get comfortable. It is highly, highly recommended you reserve your rental car in advance. Bozeman Airport car rental agencies often run out of rental cars. Assuming you have a reservation, get the keys, sign over your first born child, and pay too much for things you don’t need, and then continue east another 150-yards to the car rental parking lot. Once you locate your rental (don’t worry, it is a pretty small lot- only about 300-cars), turn right out of the rental car lot back towards the airport terminal. Stay in the righthand most lane (you are not allowed in the other lanes), and park in front of the door closest to baggage claim. Your family will hopefully still be waiting for you inside. Although Bozeman Airport security is typically incredibly nice, they have been issuing verbal warnings to people parking unattended in front of arrivals for too long. You will really want to be shaking a leg anyway, because the process to get here will have likely taken 30+ minutes by now.
(Update on renting from Phasmid: you are already on the road having collected all of the good maps and local insight you may need for a great Montana Experience) End Interlude.
Once you have your rental car loaded, start heading out the only way you can go. It is about 1-mile to get out of the airport. The road dead ends into Frontage Road. Turn left to go to Bozeman and Livingston. Right to go to Big Sky, Dillon, Twin Bridges, Belgrade, etc.
If you do not plan to rent a car we hope you have good friends in Bozeman, because the taxi services stink! Most of the major hotel chains that service the Bozeman and Belgrade area have a free airport shuttle. Make sure you contact where you are staying to confirm this and how to get the shuttle. They do NOT run regularly like most major markets.
If you are staying somewhere else and were planning to walk outside and get in line at the Taxi queue, you will be screwed. There is NO regular taxi service at the Bozeman airport. I repeat, there are no regular taxis at BZN. If you think you can walk to your hotel from the airport, you are wrong again. Frontage Road is treacherous. Perhaps the most dangerous road in America to walk along. There is also no scheduled public transportation from BZN to Bozeman (or anywhere else).
Be warned: Taxi/ Limo Fees often GREATLY exceed rental car prices or even staying at hotel with a free shuttle. Rarely will a fare be less than $50, and you will be ride sharing. Getting to big sky will easily exceed $200 each way. Check out our other recent article on transportation to Big Sky.
In conclusion: We love the Bozeman Airport. We also love all the bad and overpriced ground transportation options, mostly because we offer a good and affordable ground transportation option. Whatever way you choose to get from BZN to your end destination, you must prearrange your taxi, hotel shuttle, or rental car before you arrive at Bozeman Airport. We have seen it happen too many times where people get stuck; the next taxi available will be there in 3-hours… the hotel shuttle driver left work early… the only rental car available is $500/ day… Please, make your travel plans in advance.
As long as you pre-arrange your ground transportation from BZN, you will certainly have a great experience at our best little airport in Montana.
Bozeman, Montana. Photograph from Flickr user Dan Nguyen.
Of course there’s a lot to like about Bozeman – a Western university town in a scenic valley rimmed by mountains, near ski slopes and fishable rivers. We have a nice downtown, a small airport that’s surprisingly well-connected, few traffic jams, and tech entrepreneurs mixing with conservationists and hipsters — and a few actual cowboys.
But any town has drawbacks, whether we’re talking Paradise, Utah, or Paradise, Calif., or Paradise, Nev., or the various versions of San Francisco and Aspen and so on. That’s why many local governments have adopted a new “Code of the West” officially warning any paradise-seeking immigrants of the problems they’ll encounter when they move in, such as – egads! – rough roads, dangerous wildfires and the aroma of cattle.
The hyped-up Top 10 lists don’t admit the drawbacks of my town. They just encourage paradise-seekers to move in – and thousands of people have apparently followed the advice by moving to Bozeman since I got here.
So, tongue in cheek, here’s my rebellion against the hype: The Top 10 Reasons Not To Move To Bozeman.
(1) Begin with the town’s name – it’s lame.John M. Bozeman was a grandiose hustler who helped establish the town in 1864, while he was promoting the “Bozeman Trail,” a dangerous shortcut for white settlers traveling through Wyoming and Idaho to Montana gold camps. John M. Bozeman hoped that his new town would “swallow up all the tenderfeet … from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of,” one immigrant reported. But the whole Bozeman Trail quickly became a fiasco, as tribes including the Lakota Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne and the Northern Arapaho resisted the intrusion on their turf; within only four years or so, Native warriors wiped out 81 U.S. Army soldiers in the infamous Fetterman massacre and shut down the trail for good. As for John M. Bozeman himself, he had abandoned his wife and three young daughters in Georgia when he headed west to seek his fortune – setting the pattern for all the schemers and lone wolves who’ve come to this town since then.
John M. Bozeman had some good qualities (handsome, muscular, a crack shot). But fundamentally he was “a reckless man (who) never could see danger anywhere,” according to one of his own friends back in the 1860s. He dressed like a dandy, in “the black beaver-cloth cutaway coat and striped dress trousers favored by gamblers,” according to historians and friends, and made his living as “a speculator” who “farmed a bit, got in a few fights, gambled a lot, dreamed up business schemes, and was out of town for long periods of time.”
A new bank will be built in the field on the right, at the southeast edge of Bozeman, half a mile from any other commercial development. Photograph by Ray Ring.
John M. Bozeman’s ventures included investing in a hotel and a river ferry, and delivering mail himself between Bozeman and the Virginia City mining camp, for 50 cents per piece – shameless price gouging. “His conscience was very elastic,” a friend reported, and “to beat a man out of his wages or to neglect paying a bill or jumping a claim were matters of very little moment with him. … His faults were produced by his education, or the lack of it rather, and the social system of the South, where labor was a disgrace to a white man. (He) had no use for money except to bet with, and the most congenial place to him on earth was the saloon, with a few boon companions at a table, playing a game of draw.”
And John M. Bozeman only lasted a few years in Bozeman. At the age of 32, he was murdered – either by more hostile natives or by the jealous husband of a woman he was having an affair with. It was “the universal suspicion on the part of the husbands of the few women in town” that John Bozeman was a philanderer chasing the local married women, in the words of one historian. After he was killed, his estate wasn’t worth as much as his outstanding bills.
(2) The weather. Yes, when you mention Montana, most people understand the weather is often bad here – as in, cold. And thanks to global warming, the cold spells seem to be getting a bit warmer and less prolonged. But still. I’ve had to deal with more than a foot of heavy wet snow that fell in my yard one day in mid-June several years ago, collapsing many of my leafed-out deciduous trees and crushing the mirage of summer.
The most recent seriously cold spell, a snowstorm in early December, generated these daily low temperatures, measured at the Montana State University campus near my house (with the late sunrise this time of year, these were the below-zero temperatures you would’ve faced, if you were in Bozeman commuting to work first thing in the morning):
A recent snowstorm competes with Christmas decorations in downtown Bozeman. Photograph by Flickr user Craig Dugas.
Dec. 3 – 2 below zero F
Dec. 4 – 9 below zero
Dec. 5 – 14.2 below zero
Dec. 6 – 16.1 below zero
Dec. 7 – 19.3 below zero
Dec. 8 – 19.4 below zero
Dec. 9 – 10 below zero
Three of these days, the high temperature in late afternoon didn’t even break zero. This all came down a couple of weeks before the official beginning of winter.
(3) The movie theaters. Movies can be intellectually and emotionally stimulating, a great cultural fix and an enjoyment — but lately they’re in short supply in Bozeman. When I moved here, we had two historic downtown movie theaters and a multiplex with about a half-dozen additional screens. Then another national theater chain opened a second multiplex, adding more than a half-dozen additional screens. At that point, a wide range of new movies showed in Bozeman, beyond the standard blockbusters aimed at teen-agers and families with young kids. But since then, both downtown theaters have stopped showing movies, and one multiplex closed.
So now we’re down to only the newer multiplex, which is run by the biggest national chain, Tennessee-based Regal Entertainment Group – part of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s empire. Anschutz is a politically active conservative Christian, opposing gay rights and backing various right-wing causes, and Regal Entertainment not only seems to have his conservative philosophy, the company also seems ignorant of basic facts like, Bozeman has more than 38,000 residents, and tens of thousands more live just outside city limits. Many of the locals are intelligent adults making careers not only in the university, but also in dozens of local high-tech companies, Montana’s biggest ski resort (Big Sky), Yellowstone National Park (also nearby), or doing their own creative work in art, writing, photography, music, dance including more than one local ballet company, the local opera company, the local Shakespeare company, and so on.
Fox Searchlight Pictures poster for the new ’12 Years a Slave’ film, which has not been shown in Bozeman’s multiplex theater, even though it’s been in wide release around the country for nearly two months.
Many of those movies have already won awards and will soon be nominated for Academy Awards, but somehow they’re not appropriate for Bozeman? Or they can be shown here long after most other audiences have seen them? Give Bozeman a break, Regal Entertainment Group, or more like, give us what we’re due.
I better acknowledge, two nights per month, a small nonprofit group called the Bozeman Film Festival brings some of the ignored-by-Regal movies to an auditorium in a former school, where the screen is small and the sound can be difficult to decipher. That’s a noble effort – thanks very much, Bozeman Film Festival – but it’s not a substitute for a state-of-the-art movie theater providing longer runs in better conditions.
(4) Lack of cultural or ethnic diversity. There is none in Bozeman, unless you imagine that white ice climbers are way different from white skiers who are way different from white fly fishermen. In the whole county, 95.5 percent of the residents are white, reporting no mixed blood at all. Hispanics make up roughly 3 percent, Natives about 1 percent, blacks less than half-a-percent. So for this kind of diversity, Bozeman is very boring. Pretty much anywhere I travel, other than Wyoming, I’m always struck by how much more diverse – and interesting – other communities are.
(5) Isolation. Bozeman is a long distance from any real urban area – the nearest is the Salt Lake City metro area, roughly 430 miles away. This has to do with fact that Montana is the only state that doesn’t even border a state that has a city of one million. To get to Salt Lake City, you have to drive through hundreds of miles of Idaho. To get to Seattle, you also have to drive through Idaho, and to get to Denver, you have to drive across all of Wyoming. And so on. So when you want a city fix, it takes some doing.
(6) Wildfires. I used to tell friends who might like to visit Bozeman, the best time to come is during July and August, when the weather is most reliably good. But largely due to climate change, those months are now wildfire season, with a high risk of smoke filling the air, blocking views of the mountains and causing headaches and other health complaints. Now I tell friends who want to come during the warm weather, it’s a gamble – they might experience air quality similar to inland Los Angeles.
(7) Occasional bad land-use planning. The city and county planners based in Bozeman, and their supporters, have good intentions and would probably do more to protect the landscape and the current residents who like things as they are, but they’re constrained by local politics. They also, like all of us, make mistakes within what the politics allow.
As a result, we have a great deal of random sprawl – residential developments popping up on agricultural land outside the city, straining taxpayer-funded public services including law enforcement and road maintenance. And in the city, we have a large car wash that was allowed to wedge itself into a modern smart-growth neighborhood of houses, apartments and office buildings on North 15th Avenue, where there are no other commercial enterprises – as if the neighborhood residents would like to walk to a car wash instead of to a coffee shop or a cafe or small grocery. It’s apparently a fine car wash, but does it belong in this neighborhood?
A smart-growth neighborhood in Bozeman, interrupted by a new car wash business. Photograph by Ray Ring.
Meanwhile, at the central sports-field complex, we have an array of super bright lights on tall poles whose bothersome glare extends for miles – the opposite of the “Dark Skies” movement taking hold elsewhere in the West. Banks are being allowed to build new branches around the city’s fringes, like the one going in now, all by itself, in a streamside field on Kagy Boulevard, where horses grazed until recently (shown in a photo around #1 in this blog post) – as if we need more banks in a town already saturated with them (an indication of the affluence here).
The car wash, which has a neighborhood pedestrian crossing right in front of it. Photograph by Ray Ring.
It works like this: Under state law, the hard-liquor saloons must have state licenses. The state also limits the number of those licenses, so bidding wars erupt and a license can now cost more than $100,000. Microbreweries don’t have to buy those licenses. The Tavern Association thinks that isn’t fair, so it pressures the Montana Legislature to pass laws ordering that microbreweries can only serve their product in “tasting rooms” for limited hours – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. “Microbreweries here operate under some of the most restrictive regulations in the country,” says the head of the Montana Brewers Association. As a result, when I venture into any of the good microbreweries in the Bozeman area, last call is 8 p.m.
(9) Restaurants. Maybe due to the lack of cultural and ethnic diversity, Bozeman has no restaurants specializing in Indian food, none specializing in Ethiopian or other varieties of African food, no Peruvian or Brazilian or Spanish cuisine, and so on. We have some good restaurants, including sushi, Thai, and a co-op that serves from steamer trays, but overall Bozeman’s fare tends to be middle-of-the-road. Maybe more important, Bozeman also has no restaurant open 24/7, and the coffee shops don’t stay open late, so night owls seeking community, you’re out of luck here.
(10) The supervolcano near Bozeman. It underlies Yellowstone National Park, generating the heat for all the geysers and hotpots, and as anyone who’s watched the supervolcano documentaries on the Discovery Channel and PBS, it could erupt anytime. And when it does generate its next eruption – actually the term is supereruption, and some experts say this is “overdue” – it will obliterate Bozeman, along with ruining the whole planet’s atmosphere. So despite the influx of wealthy people driving up the prices of Bozeman real estate, our property values are really iffy, long-term.
I could list more than these Top 10 Reasons Not To Move To Bozeman, but like I said, this is long enough. And like I also said, I’m writing this tongue-in-cheek, because I do like living in Bozeman, despite the drawbacks. But those who are thinking of moving here, keep this list in mind. And fellow Bozemanites, if you’d like to chime in, please do.
Ray Ring is a senior editor of High Country News, and he is based in Bozeman. The descriptions of John M. Bozeman for this post were found in Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley: A history, by Phyllis Smith, and John M. Bozeman: Montana Trailmaker, by Merrill G. Burlingame. The list of new movies that haven’t shown in Bozeman’s multiplex theater is derived from months of the multiplex’s ads in the local newspaper.
It is always an exciting time in Bozeman when the snow arrives, and this year the snow is arriving in spades. Bridger Bowl and BIg Sky are already (as of mid-December 2013) posting base depth of four feet. This bodes well so far.
The Bozeman Airport does an excellent job dealing with oversized luggage, AKA skis and boards (hint: big bags come off last). We do have a couple of hints for winter visitors that will hopefully make your life a little easier when you are passing through.
1) Transportation to Big Sky. Options are limited. It is typically less expensive to rent a car than to take a shuttle/ taxi to Big Sky. Plus, a rental car gives you flexibility to check out different areas of town, Bozeman, and Yellowstone. It is highly, highly recommended to rent a car versus a shuttle. Here is an article about BZN Ground transportation.
2) If you are on a late flight, eat before you get to Bozeman. There are few restaurant options, other than McDonalds, on your way to Big Sky open late. The grocery store, Albertsons, is open to 1AM and on the way. If you can muster, it is worth stopping here to stock up.
3) If you have rented a car through one of the franchise companies on airport, send the primary member of the party to get pick up the car IMMEDIATELY. Lines can and will be long, and the cars are far away. Drive the car up to arrivals to pick up the rest of your party and their luggage.
4) Ski racks. On airport companies do offer ski racks on some of their rental cars. However, these are the clamp style racks. So if you are traveling with board/ ski bags plan on removing the contents to strap in. The independent car rental agency, Phasmid, offers rental roof-top ski boxes on their cars, as well as if you just want to rent a roof box. They are located about a mile from BZN and pick people up at the airport privately, right outside of arrivals, if you are renting a car from them.
5) Gear. Soft sided bags are a lot easier to pack and if you did book too small of a rental car (or got shafted with getting something you did not book) are a lot more comfortable on your lap then a suitcase! If you are tight for packing space, carry your ski boots on the plane.
6) Rental cars and the drive to Big Sky. Four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive cars are required in the winter. You may get lucky if you rent a 2WD car and the road to Big Sky is dry and safe, or you may end up with a snowy/ icey road and in the Gallatin River. They do an excellent job maintaining the road to Big Sky in winter, however, sometimes it is impossible to keep it perfect. Supposedly they stopped putting up white crosses marking where people died because there are so many already it started to freak people out.
Pony up and get a 4WD or AWD rental car.
If you book a SUV through a Bozeman airport rental car company, call and make sure 100% that the car you will be getting is 4WD or AWD. If they will not guarantee this, book a rental car through a different company. A couple of the companies have been renting 2WD Ford Escapes and Ford Explorers- veritable deathtraps in adverse driving conditions.
When you do book your rental car, book in advance as possible. Winter rental car prices in Bozeman can be insane. Don’t hesitate to think out of the box and go through an independent company off-airport. Here is a recent screen grab of Bozeman airport car rental agencies over Christmas, 2013:
6) Drive safe. If you are arriving one of the late flights and are not comfortable driving in winter conditions and/ or at night- get a hotel for the night! It is not worth the stress, or worse and accident, to race to Big Sky. Stay at a hotel in Belgrade or Bozeman and go in the morning- you won’t miss anything at all!
Buyer Beware, Unauthorized Cheap Car Rentals at Bozeman Airport
Lately we been seeing a number of unauthorized off-airport car rental agencies showing up at the Bozeman Airport. Buyer beware, although these companies may be cheap alternative car rental to the more expensive authorized on-airport (Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, Thrifty, Alamo) and authorized off-airport car rental agencies (Ressler Rent-A-Car, Journey Rent-A-Car, Phasmid Rentals) they are not legally operating on airport property. The airport is private property, and only authorized vendors are allowed to operate on-site. What this means to the consumer: your rental car may not be there when you arrive, even though the company you rented from says it will- as it may get towed or booted by airport security, or stolen (the keys are left in the vehicle).
Further, it has been brought to our attention that one of these companies is not legally renting cars- via not paying taxes, having legal insurance, or paying airport concession fees.
You can view the official Bozeman off-airport car rental agencies here, http://www.bozemanairport.com/.
Companies that have not registered with the Bozeman Airport:
UBAG cannot judge the quality of these rental car agencies, or what exactly they offer. However, we do know that ‘Cheap’ is not always the best option when it comes to safety. If you do choose to use one of these unauthorized car rental agencies in Bozeman, please for your own good make sure the cars are legally insured as rental cars and the company is obeying all local, airport, and state tax rules.
As Billings airport closes down on weekends to resurface their runway this summer, Bozeman Airport, BZN, officially takes over as the most popular airport in Montana. Not only is BZN the most trafficked airport, but also by far the coolest. Simply put, if all airports were this great we air travel would be a lot more fun!
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 just heard of a person taking an introductory flight class with Summit Aviation at BZN. $69 for a half-hour, hands on flight course. Just to get up in the plane and see the mountains from a different level is totally worth it. Sign us up, this sounds AWESOME.
Information and resources for visitors to BZN, Bozeman, Big Sky, and Yellowstone