Basin will be packed for the holiday |

Basin will be packed for the holiday

Lauren Halsted, Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneAs Mike Ellison, left, registers Tuesday afternoon, Gloria Christni, center, head cashier at the Campground by the Lake, hands an entrance pass to Christy Palmateer of Sacramento as her friend Angie Ellison looks on.

Planes, trains and especially automobiles are being put to use this holiday weekend.

While surveys indicate that many people are getting out of town for the holiday, Tahoe residents seem to want to stay home.

Surveys released Monday from the Automobile Clubs of Northern California and Nevada indicate that more people will drive during the Fourth of July holiday this year than ever before.

AAA estimates that 5.4 million Californians and 330,652 Nevadans will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the holiday. Seventy-nine percent of them, an all-time record, will go by car.

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“Californians love their freedom to travel,” said AAA spokeswoman Atle Erlingsson. “If the extra money isn’t there to fly, then they’ll drive, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing this year.”

Many Tahoe residents, however, are content to stay at home and enjoy the fireworks.

Park Kinnear, 45, of South Lake Tahoe plans to barbecue by Regan Beach. “I’m not traveling because there’s too much traffic and too much hassle,” he said.

If Kinnear was going somewhere, he would choose Amtrak because flying is too difficult now, he added.

“We’re staying home and out of the crowds,” South Shore residents Rich and Anette Rhodes said. The couple had just bought an American flag to fly at their house.

“We’ve had a little one up since 9/11, but we needed a bigger one for the Fourth,” Anette Rhodes said.

Being a community built on tourism, many residents will spend the holidays working.

Brandon Shequen and Dan Bernal are both scheduled to work at their casino jobs. Shequen, 23, will work at the new club Altitude, inside Harrah’s, when the fireworks blast off.

AAA reports the Bay Area will have the greatest number of residents traveling out of their region, tallied at 1,070,000 people.

The Fresno region came in second with 262,000. El Dorado County reported 25,500 people traveling.

Shelly Alford drove up to South Shore from Fresno. He will spend the holiday “enjoying it up here in Tahoe,” he said, and “watching the fireworks over the lake.”

Economic concerns may have something to do with new travel trends.

Gas prices are lower than last year, according to AAA. In California, prices are 20 to 25 cents lower per gallon than this time last year. The average price in Nevada has dropped about 10 cents per gallon from a year ago.

“The current gas prices make it that much easier for people to take to the roads,” Erlingsson said. “By California standards, the price of gas is relatively low for this time of year.”

While the mountains are not high on this year’s preferred destinations list, the large amount of tourists and traffic in town would indicate otherwise.

Only 5 percent of people surveyed are planning to travel to the mountains; however, most of the campgrounds in town are booked.

“We’re totally full,” said Melissa McKnelly at Camp Richardson. “When people ask me if I can recommend someplace else, I can’t. Everywhere is full.”

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