Nearly 930,000 Coloradans — the most since 2005 — are expected to travel at least 50 miles this Thanksgiving, AAA Colorado predicts.
About 810,000 of them will travel by car, AAA reports. Nearly 60,000 will fly, and another 60,000 or so will be on trains, buses or cruise ships.
The number of Coloradans expected to travel is about 7 percent higher than last year.
Travel times could be up to four times longer in the most-congested U.S. cities, as 54.3 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles Thursday, AAA says. Denver is not among those cities, however.
Colorado Springs Airport is expecting its usual rush of holiday travelers, said spokeswoman Aidan Ryan. Long-term parking at the airport is half off in November and December with a coupon downloaded at flycos.com.
Colorado drivers should brace for heavy traffic as people hit the highways and visit large shopping areas Friday, warns the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT construction projects will be suspended at noon Wednesday, resuming Monday.
Interstate 25 traffic probably will be busier than usual, partly because of the many large shopping areas along the I-25 corridor.
On Interstate 70 west of Denver, westbound traffic likely will be heavy Wednesday and Friday, and eastbound traffic is expected to be dense Saturday and Sunday, especially between Vail and the Denver area from late morning until late afternoon.
But Thanksgiving isn’t one of Colorado’s top travel weekends, said CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson.
On I-70, the agency’s “hour-to-hour, day-to-day counts 24/7/365” show the busiest weekends are over Christmas, the Fourth of July and Labor Day, Wilson said by email. The half-dozen weekends from the Fourth of July through mid-August also tend to rank higher.
The Thanksgiving surge in travelers often continues to increase “since it’s winter break, and the skiing is better than right now,” Wilson wrote.
Gas prices across the country will be the highest since 2014, even after a drop of 25 cents in the national average since the beginning of October, predicted GasBuddy, a website that tracks real-time fuel prices across the country.
A gallon of gas cost an average of $2.68 in Colorado on Monday afternoon, up 9.6 cents from last year’s average, GasBuddy’s website says.
The national average gas price this Thanksgiving is expected to be $2.57 per gallon, compared with $2.79 in 2014.
“Although prices are higher than previous years, seasonal declines have now hit every state in the country and may accelerate in the days leading into Thanksgiving,” a news release says.
In GasBuddy’s annual holiday survey, 32 percent of respondents said high gas prices would affect their travel plans, with an expected 15 percent decrease in drivers compared with Thanksgiving last year. But some people might change their minds at the last minute because of a recent drop in prices, GasBuddy analysts say. Gas stations in eight states have dropped their price to $1.99 per gallon or less.
Colorado travelers won’t have to worry about the weather, though, the National Weather Service in Pueblo reported. Clear, sunny skies and mild weather are forecast through the weekend in Colorado Springs and the Denver area.
Only a slight chance of rain showers around Denver are forecast for overnight Friday and into Saturday, reported the NWS in Boulder.
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