DENVER — The roads in Colorado this Memorial Day weekend are expected to be the busiest in three years, according to AAA Colorado.
AAA predicts that 730,000 Coloradans will join the 39.2 million Americans traveling for the holiday weekend despite record-high prices at the gasoline pump.
AAA said 8.3% more Americans are traveling this year over last, bringing travel volumes in line with where they were in 2017.
"Despite rising prices and continued uncertainties about COVID-19, Coloradans have made one thing clear: They're ready to travel," said Skyler McKinley, regional director of public affairs for AAA. "Travel comfort has hit a two-year high, with reservations for flights, hotels, and cruises for Memorial Day weekend running twice as strong as last year. All signs point to that momentum carrying into the summer."
Gas prices for Memorial Day will be the highest on record, a trend that is expected to continue through the summer travel season.
Ninety percent of Memorial Day travelers plan to get up and go by car, including 652,000 Coloradans.
As of Tuesday, May 24, the average price for gasoline in Colorado is $4.16. That's up from $3.12 in 2021, $2.06 in 2020, and $2.87 in 2019. When Colorado gas prices were last setting records, in 2008, the average price for a gallon over Memorial Day was $3.92.
"Record high gas prices and other inflationary pressures aren't discouraging Coloradans from travel," McKinley said. "Per our survey data, many may look at cost-cutting measures - like driving shorter distances, staying in cheaper hotels, or spending less on shopping, dining, and entertainment - but they're going to travel, no matter what."
Thursday and Friday will be the peak traffic days on the roads in Colorado. To avoid the worst of it, AAA Colorado said travelers should hit the roads before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m. On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, AAA advises travelers to start driving before 11 a.m.
"Even with the increase in gas prices, we're predicting a large jump in holiday driving compared to the last few years," McKinley said. "That means congestion. Drivers can avoid the worst of it by getting a head start, but to some extent, traffic will be unavoidable. Keep a cool head when you're in a jam by remembering that you can't be stuck in traffic: You are traffic."
New AAA survey data has found that 80% of Coloradans currently feel comfortable traveling, more than at any other time since the pandemic began. That's up from 47% at this time last year.
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