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Rental Car- Canada Pick up and Drop off in Montana

Rental Car- Canada Pick up and Drop off in Montana

Old Dec 21st, 2016, 10:23 AM
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Rental Car- Canada Pick up and Drop off in Montana

Hi! My husband and I are planning to go to Banff National Park & Kootenay National Park. We are then planning to head down to Glacier/ Flathead Lake area and then to Missoula for a wedding. I hadn't thought about how difficult it might be to rent a car in Canada at the Calgary International Airport and drop it off at the Missoula International Airport. Has anyone done this and if so what rental car company allowed you to do this? If this is not a possibility, anyone have alternatives?

Thanks in advance!
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 03:54 PM
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Unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible to pick up a car in one country and drop it off in another. There are a very few exceptions - i.e. Seattle and Vancouver, but generally it's too much hassle. Especially for a small city like Missoula where the companies are likely to want to keep too many cars.

As there are no direct Calgary to Missoula flights nor any public transport across the borders in that area, the only realistic option is likely to be do a big loop. As long as you've ensured that the rental contract allows you to cross international borders - and most will if you request - you can do a loop starting and ending in the same place.

To figure out what is realistic, it would help to know how much time you have for this trip and when the trip would be. If you want to see the Canadian Rockies, we generally suggest at least 5-7 nights. Banff National Park is nice, but it's the drive/scenery from Lake Louise to Jasper which is the crown jewel of the Rockies. So most itineraries allow for time in Banff/Lake Louise, then up to Jasper, then back down to Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper. Kootenay NP is pretty, but it's usually below Banff, Jasper and Yoho NPs in terms of priorities.

From Banff National Park, it's essentially a long half day to drive directly to the northern part of Glacier NP (US) and a whole day to Missoula.

Timing is also key because with the weak Canadian $$ and free parks admission in 2017, it's likely to be extremely busy in Banff/Jasper/Kootenay/Yoho NPs next summer. For late June through September, you need to book as soon possible, especially if you are on a more limited budget.

If you have a week or less, it might be best to stick with the US. Another option would be to explore a bit of Waterton National Park which right on the US/CAN border. You could fly into and out of Missoula for that.
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Old Dec 21st, 2016, 11:05 PM
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The hard fact is -- unless you are driving your own car this is two different trips. The areas are 'relatively' near each other but not really and taking a rental car is unrealistic unless as kgsneds mentions you do a big loop drive.

Perhaps change your plans and visit some parks in the US instead of Banff/Kootenay .
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Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 07:07 AM
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Thank you so much for your help! I greatly appreciate it and I won't spend any more time calling companies and trying to force making it happen. I am considering flying in to Calgary exploring the parks in the area for for five or six days and then flying into Missoula from Calgary. Again, I appreciate your help.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 11:51 AM
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It can certainly be done as one trip - probably no more than 5-6 hrs from Banff NP to Glacier NP. But not with a rental car.

Flying to Missoula is possible, but as far as I know, there are no direct flights from Calgary to Missoula. Generally you need to connect via Seattle, so ends up taking up a good chunk of a day.
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Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 06:31 PM
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The northern US Rockies are just as beautiful as the Canadian Rockies IMO. I've seen both on a train trip a few years ago.
Fly to Either Seattle, Spokane or Kalispell MT.
If you do go by way of Seattle or Spokane, you can ride the Amtrak Empire Builder to Whitefish (overnight trip).
In the summer you can rent cars in Whitefish. Later in the year, you have to get to the Kalispell airport.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2017, 11:45 AM
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If you've only "seen" the Canadian Rockies by train, you haven't seen more than a tiny fraction. And you haven't seen the most stunning areas. Same, honestly for the US Rockies.

In any case, the OP is going to have to make some choices. Probably need to visit the US Rockies or the Canadian Rockies.
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 11:59 AM
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One other thought, depending on the time available to the OP:
Fly into and out of Missoula.
This would still require a loop drive, but it could hit quite a variety of sights.
One possible loop of 1,125 miles, requiring 21 hours of wheels-turning *driving* time (add stops for sightseeing, staying multi days at select spots, gas, and food): https://goo.gl/maps/hmh2Dc8AMc62
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Old Jan 14th, 2017, 12:05 PM
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PS to the above: From Banff to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site I'd take hwy 40 south from Banff to Longview. Since it's presently closed (closes in winter) I couldn't get google maps to show it
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