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Colorado a popular destination among Memorial Day travelers, according to AAA report

More than 38 million people are expected to travel by car
Tourists and traffic fills downtown Durango in September 2021. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Experts are predicting a boom in travel for Memorial Day, with Colorado being one of the most popular destinations in the country.

Denver has the second-highest demand for rental cars over the three-day weekend, according to AAA. Orlando has the top spot. Colorado’s capital city ranks sixth in the nation when hotel bookings and flights are combined with rental car statistics.

A lot of that volume is people flying into Denver International Airport and using the city as a jumping-off point for travel throughout the Mountain West.

Nearly 44 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home for Memorial Day, a 4% increase from last year, according to AAA. More than 38 million people are forecast to travel by car, the highest on record since AAA began tracking data for the holiday in 2000.

If you want to avoid the worst of the traffic in Colorado, don’t drive south on I-25 between Fort Collins and Denver on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. Travel time will be 56% longer than usual, according to AAA.

People are planning trips even as inflation continues to bite, albeit not as badly as in recent years. In fact, hotel rooms cost about 5% less than over the holiday weekend last year, AAA data show. Still, the average price for a round-trip domestic flight over the holiday weekend is $778, up 2% from a year ago.

Memorial Day is the official kickoff for summer road trips – and higher gas prices. The statewide average for a gallon of gas in Colorado is currently $3.35. Last year it was $3.47 per gallon. Gas prices in Colorado came down a lot this winter, helping bring down the state’s overall inflation rate. That’s likely to reverse as warm weather settles in.

“Drivers should expect continued volatility at the pump as the summer driving season gets underway,” Skyler McKinley, a spokesperson for AAA Colorado, said in the report.

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.