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Car Rental- pickup in Denver- drop off in Rapid City- 2 weeks for $1,600 for most basic car? Any suggestions to reduce the cost? Cheaper car rental or Bus?

Car Rental- pickup in Denver- drop off in Rapid City- 2 weeks for $1,600 for most basic car? Any suggestions to reduce the cost? Cheaper car rental or Bus?

Jun 19th, 2003, 04:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17
Car Rental- pickup in Denver- drop off in Rapid City- 2 weeks for $1,600 for most basic car? Any suggestions to reduce the cost? Cheaper car rental or Bus?

We are flying into Denver and out of Rapid city last 2 weeks of August. We will visit Tetons, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore on the way. Flights and accomodation are all booked months ago and can't be changed. We haven't organised car hire yet and are aghast at the prices. National are quoting $1563 for bottom of the range economy car for 15 days. A full size is nearly $2,000. Our problem seems to be:

1. Rapid City is a minor car rental depot and not all the companies will let you drop off there so it redces our options
2. Costs will always be a little higher because we drop off to a different location.
3. It's August so high season.

We had sort of *naively* expected to pay ca. $750 for the 2 weeks so this is coming as a major shock.

Are now wondering could we rent a car in Denver for a few days when we are there. Catch a bus to Jackson Hole- looking out at the scenery going by. Pick up a rental car for a week to do the Tetons and Yellowstone, drop it back, either to Jackson Hotel/Bozeman or W.Yellowstone, then catch a bus to Rapid City where we could pick up another rental car for the few days we are there. Overall the amount of rental days is the same but we would eliminate one way rental costs and it might be cheaper as we can take advantage of small (cheaper) local companies and hopefully special deals.

However, can't seem to find bus services to go where we want to!

Other posters mentioned that it is prudent in the mountains to have a decent car so we can't do without, but we really can't afford that sort of cost. (we rented a Mercedes in Germany last week for 8 days for $150 and an upgrade coupon with Avis so really expected car-friendly America not to be so expensive)

Can anyone recommend any rental companies that could help or any suggestions to reduce cost? Thanks to you all for your suggestions!

There will just be 2 of us travelling

discussion is offline  
Jun 19th, 2003, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 216
Driving through Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota in the "most basic car" will most likely be a very unpleasant experience. Not so much because of the mountains but because of the distances involved. Cramped, underpowered, no cruise-control, etc will make those already long drives seem like forever.

If Rapid City is the problem, how about not making it your final stop? Start in Denver and end up in SLC, a much bigger market.

You're flying into Denver, but did not mention Rocky Mountain National Park? I would skip the Black Hills and add RMNP to your itinerary. Rocky is much, much, much more scenic than the Black Hills. This way you could drop your car off at Billings, Bozeman, SLC or somewhere else that is perhaps more amenable than Rapid.

drsawyers is offline  
Jun 19th, 2003, 04:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 216
Another alternative, if you don't want to skip the Black Hills, is to fly into AND out of someplace closer to Y'Stone. (Salt Lake, Billings, Bozeman or Jackson, depending on prices.)

Drive to Yellowstone, then out across the Beartooth Highway. Cross southern MT to the Black Hills.

Come back through northern WY, across the Bighorn Mountains to Yellowstone and the Tetons, then return to SLC.
drsawyers is offline  
Jun 19th, 2003, 05:25 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 103
We reserved a two week, one-way minivan rental, picking up in Las Vegas and dropping off in Denver with Dollar for approx. $700. The one way charge was about $200 of this total.

Don't know how Denver to Rapid City would compare, but try Dollar. I know we looked at doing the reverse trip, starting in Denver an returning to LV and that was more expensive.
hotdogz is offline  
Jun 19th, 2003, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 750
I just did an expedia search for a mid size car from Hertz: pickup Denver Airport August 16, return Rapid City Airport August 30 and received a quote of $468.00 per week. Still pretty high, but much cheaper than what you apparantly have found.
KE1TH is offline  
Jun 20th, 2003, 02:10 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 17

Hi all, part of our predicament is that the flights are booked. The trip idea basically started by taking a world atlas and noticing that the area around Denver/Wyoming looked very mountainous and we thought that would be a nice place to do some hiking in. So we started with RNMP, then it spiralled taking in YNP, Tetons and Mt Rushmore. Our first idea was a loop from SLC-YNP-Tetons-Mt Rushmore-RMNP but after researching SLC it didn't really seem that interesting to us and we decided to spend more time in the parks instead- hence the oneway to Rapid City. We were also somewhat limited by park accomodation availability.

I do admit that am looking fwd to RMNP more than the Badlands area but we reckoned that we couldn't come so near to Mt Rushmore and not go to such an icon.

drsawyers- thanks for your comments about the cars. I'll bear it in mind when we make our choice. I also like your route suggestions- but proably not be able to take all on board...

I doubt we'll be back in the Mid West region again so we wanted to really cover the essentials.

KE1TH- thanks for this. It sounds so obvious but I never thought of expedia for car rental (always always use them for flights and hotels but always book direct for car rental- till now).

hotdogz- I'll just tried Dollar but they don't do this one way trip.
discussion is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 06:05 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 487
I just drove this area, it is all mountains and you need a more powerful car than just basic. I disagree Black hills is not scenic, but a small car willnot work. RC has a airport so drop off shouldn't be a prblem.
ARKANSASNURSE is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 12,365
Unfortunately the only economical solution is to rent from Denver to Bozeman,(probably Avis is lowest),-- --then rent from National for a quick one way from Bozeman to Rapid City (use contract ID 6600334 for a discount)-- --then pickup still another car for local rental in Rapid City (hertz or national).

If you join the Auto Club you will get discounts from Avis and Hertz. Also, check back in a couple of weeks because car rental "special deals" for August don't seem to be up yet.

Depending on the size car you rent, this solution could come in for about $700-$750?
clarkgriswold is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 01:58 PM
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Regardless of how you do your trip, I'd highly recommend joining AAA. It would be surprising if it didn't save you money. I'm renting a SUV from Enterprise in Minnesota next month as part of a vacation and driving to the Black Hills. My membership ($47/year) dropped the price from #499 to $400 per week. It's saved money with our hotels as well. I've also received detailed maps and a substantial guide book about the Black Hills area for no additional charge. (FWIW-no financial interest in AAA) Enjoy your trip.
Jun 21st, 2003, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 12,365
Another suggestion if your flight arrives daytime, is to hop an airport bus into the city of Denver as prices are lower (taxes too) than at the airport.
You can choose a Hertz HLE location in Denver, once you're in the city they'll come and pick you up. Right now they're quoting $48 a day for a Mazda626 with return to Rapid City.

If you're a member of CAA you'll get a discount, just find out your discount number. Or, join the frequent flier program for the airline you're flying and they'll give you a discount C number to use with Hertz that'll save you 5 or 10 percent. www.hertz.com
clarkgriswold is offline  
Jun 21st, 2003, 08:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,898
Hertz usually does NOT charge a DROP fee to leave the car in another state..

Also have AAA gives you a 10-20% discount depending on where you live..

But I just found out this week that BUDGET is linked with Costco and using the COSTCO card, the rates were CHEAPER than National,Avis and HERTZ....

SO try Budget....
andy is offline  
Jul 2nd, 2003, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 66
I haven't found a cheaper rate than booking through United Airlines website (w/ Dollar). I've even used Priceline and Hotwire and they couldn't come close to the price I got
bsam is offline  
Jul 14th, 2003, 12:43 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Hi, thanks all for your suggestions.
Eventually we booked a Mazda 626 for $850 including everything using Hertz online. It's a all-in-one cost so am happy we will have no surprises.
Regarding the car, it seems big enough for 2 peoples + luggage.
discussion is offline  
Jul 14th, 2003, 02:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I also checked - Travelocity has rates ranging from about $450 to $750 depending on size of car.
gail is offline  
Jul 14th, 2003, 05:26 AM
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Posts: 15,978
I just did what Gail reported--about $500/week for a full size car. Have you checked all the sites--Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Doing it piecemeal as you are suggesting may not be all that economical and the bus service is not very timely. Shopping only on car rental sites is never the best way to get the best price. You might even try Hotwire or Priceline.
Gretchen is offline  
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