National unleaded gas price averages
Current (as of July 2)
Average gas prices in Colorado
Source: AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report
Craig The number of travelers taking to the roads for the Fourth of July holiday this year could decrease.
More than 34.2 million Americans intend to travel via automobile this Independence Day, according to a news release from the AAA automobile club. That's a 1.2 percent decrease from last year, AAA reported.
The decrease, along with drops in other transportation modes, amounts to the first time the number of Fourth of July travelers has decreased since 2000.
Still, several local business owners said they have not yet seen the increasing price of gas affecting their summer clientele.
Cindy Looper, Elk Run Inn co-owner, said the motel was "booked solid."
"It doesn't seem like (gas prices are) affecting us," she said.
Looper, who also is the Moffat County Tourism Association's secretary, said she didn't think fuel costs would dissuade Front Range residents from visiting Northwest Colorado.
The MCTA specializes in advertising in local, in-state and out-of-state venues in the hopes of attracting tourists to the area.
Part of that advertising extends to the Front Range, Looper said.
Patricia McCaffrey, Craig KOA owner, said she's seen a similar trend.
The number of travelers staying at the campground has increased by about 10 percent this year, she said.
"There's a lot of things going in town to contribute to it," McCaffrey said, including Little Britches Rodeo events scheduled to take place today and Friday in Craig. "We've just had a lot of things going on in the community that (are) driving people in," she said.
Increased fuel costs may not keep Coloradans from venturing out into their own state this summer, said Christina Currie, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
"My feeling right now is that we're as busy as we've ever been," she said. "Our foot traffic from visitors, and visitors' willingness to explore the outskirts of Moffat County - which with these gas prices is a fairly expensive proposition - has not been diminished."
However, fuel costs may compel some types of tourists to stay closer to home this summer, she said.
"I don't know that we're going to see fewer visitors," Currie said.
Instead, she said, fewer out-of-state vacationers could be coming to Moffat County this year.
Currie said more Colorado residents "exploring their own backyard" could replace the lack of those visitors.
The absence of out-of-state visitors could have a negative financial impact on the local economy.
People traveling to Moffat County from outside of state limits usually spend more money than in-state residents do, Currie said.
"I think we're going to suffer economically even if our numbers don't," she said.
Still, the situation could have its advantages.
"The good part of that is," Currie said, "when you get locals to explore what's here in Colorado, they're much more effective at selling that to their relatives and other visitors."
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.