Gas prices are expected to break $3 per gallon in Southwest Colorado during the summer driving holidays according to AAA.
The last time gas prices broke $3 in Colorado was October 2014, said Skyler McKinley, a spokesman for AAA.
This year, gas prices in Colorado are likely to peak on Memorial Day and track close to $3 per gallon through the spring and summer driving season across Colorado, according to a AAA news release.
Southwest Colorado is likely to follow state trends and track slightly above average, McKinley said.
“I think probably Durango is a good weather vain for the entire state,” he said.
Montezuma County’s gas prices are likely to track higher than Durango’s because it is not a population center, he said. Regional population centers tend to see lower prices.
The current average price for gas is $2.80 in Durango, up from $2.76 in April 2018, according to AAA.
The average price of gas in across Colorado is $2.72 per gallon, up 30 cents from this time last month and about 10 cents higher than they were in April 2018. Gas prices are also higher than they were in 2016 and 2017 at this time.
A variety of factors are driving up gas prices, such as global supply and demand, AAA said.
Declines in oil exports from Iran and Venezuela are likely to hurt global supply. At the same time, the U.S. economy is healthy and wages are up, increasing the likelihood consumers will travel and boost demand.
The type of gas that is sold in the summer also boosts prices. In the spring, refineries start selling summer-blend gasoline that doesn’t evaporate as quickly, helping to decrease unhealthy ozone and smog levels. However, it is more expensive to make, according to AAA.
As gas prices rise, consumers reconsider their driving habits and plans, McKinley said. When gas prices cross the $3-per-gallon mark, drivers consider carpooling and making other changes, but they don’t typically take action, McKinley said.
When gas prices hit $3.25 or $3.50 per gallon, drivers start changing their habits, he said.
Gas prices are not expected to track above $3 per gallon for long, so AAA expects the summer travel season in 2019 will be on par with last year, a record-setting season, he said.
During the peak holiday travel weekends, such as Memorial Day, trips longer than 50 miles increased about 5% to 7.5% above previous peaks in Colorado, he said.
Durango tourism professionals are also expecting a strong travel season based on their bookings, said Barbara Bowman, interim executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.
“I feel Durango is poised and ready for a strong summer,” she said.