They’re headed our way |

They’re headed our way

Preston Utley/

VAIL ” We’re Americans and we gotta drive.

And if we’re not driving, we’re driven.

High gas prices and dry weather won’t keep us home this July Fourth weekend.

“Many people are booking July Fourth weekend reservations through Monday, and are checking out on July 4th,” said Ian Anderson of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau.

“If you’re from the Front Range, you have to be at work on Wednesday,” Anderson said.

Vail’s fireworks were still on as of press time Wednesday, although Vail officials, fire fighters and U.S. Forest Service officials are watching the skies and hoping for rain. Avon officials say theirs still get the green light.

Nationwide, 1.2 percent more Americans will scratch their traveling itch this weekend than last year, according to AAA Colorado.

More Coloradans will hit the road this weekend than ever before. Despite a sharp increase in costs from a year ago, Coloradans will take to the skies, highways and waterways at a rate of 29 percent higher than last year during the July Fourth holiday weekend.

Travelers will also face fire bans and the fireworks cancellations that follow weeks of dry weather. Still, while there may be no place like home, they don’t seem interested in staying there.

“So far, we don’t see a correlation between the five current wildfires in our state and people’s plans changing,” said Alexa Gromko, manager of public relations for AAA Colorado. “It’s best for travelers to be aware of the conditions, pack and plan accordingly, and be careful.”

July Fourth is traditionally the biggest travel weekend of the summer because it’s the first major weekend after schools close, Gromko said. He said since the holiday falls on a Tuesday, many people plan to make it a five-day weekend.

Most travelers will hit the open road in the comfort of their very own automobile. About 80 percent will drive to their destinations, AAA reported. About 6 percent more people in Colorado will fly this weekend than last year.

Nationally, 34.3 million people will drive to their destination this weekend, a 1.3 percent increase from last year. Nationally, 4.6 million people plan to travel by airplane, the same number flying last Fourth of July.

Holiday drivers will find an average gasoline price of $2.86 nationally and $2.84 in Colorado, up about 67 cents from a year ago. Gasoline prices, which have so far resisted the broad decline in stock and commodity prices of recent weeks, could soon be moving a bit lower, according to AAA. To save on gas, millions of Americans can go online to AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator,

AAA’s Leisure Travel Index shows other vacation costs up from last July Fourth. Hotel rates are averaging 10 percent higher, airfares are up 7 percent and car rental rates are up 5 percent.

While travelers are hitting the road, they’re not hitting it as hard. AAA Colorado reports that hotel bookings are down 6 percent and car rentals are down 41 percent. Gromko said that suggests people are cutting vacation costs by driving their own cars to offset gas prices and staying with family and friends.

Vail, Colorado

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