Nearly 865,000 Coloradans to Travel this Thanksgiving Holiday

Strong economy spurs busiest travel period since 2005


DENVER (November 20, 2017) – AAA Colorado projects that nearly 865,000 Coloradans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. All told, the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday period will be the busiest since 2005.

Nearly 750,000 Coloradans will be taking to the roads to get to their Thanksgiving destinations this year – and thousands of other road-trippers will flood to and through Colorado on their way to their festivities. Motorists should anticipate heavy traffic, and should allow for extra time to get to wherever they're going – whether that's down the street or across the state.

"It's no secret: Living in Colorado, we've got a lot to be thankful for," said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. "Our strong labor market is generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence. That's led to a record travel year, and the Thanksgiving holiday travel period will be the busiest of the year to date."

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • Road trip ready: 89 percent of Colorado travelers – 747,000 – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
  • Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at 5 percent, with nearly 60,000 Colorado travelers.
  • Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 58,000 Coloradans.
  • Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014. Colorado gas prices are up 47 cents per gallon since Thanksgiving 2016, the most significant increase in the Rockies.
  • Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.


Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices.

While AAA expects most Colorado drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the clear majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 747,000 Coloradans planning a holiday road trip. Colorado drivers can expect to pay $2.54 per gallon, a 47 cent increase over last year. On average, gas is most expensive in Pitkin County ($3.39 per gallon) and cheapest in Phillips and Kiowa Counties ($2.39 per gallon).

Flying out of DIA? Budget extra time.

More than 58,000 Coloradans will take to the skies as part of their Thanksgiving travel, and the majority will be flying out of Denver International Airport – the nation's sixth busiest airport. In addition to longer security lines, travelers should budget extra drive time to get to the airport. The worst time to drive to DIA will be Wednesday, November 22 between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – when downtown to DIA via I-70 E and Peña Blvd will take 52 minutes, on average.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand more than 5,000 Colorado motorists this Thanksgiving.

AAA Colorado expects to rescue more than 5,000 motorists during the Thanksgiving holiday period, primarily for lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

About the AAA travel forecast

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.

About AAA Colorado

More than 650,000 members strong, AAA Colorado is the state's greatest advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services - as well as member-exclusive savings. For more information, visit