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Despite gas prices visitors will flock to Tahoe

Jeff Munson

Despite record high gas prices, one constant that likely won’t change is the number of California and Nevada motorists planning to travel this Memorial Day weekend.

Beginning today, motorists will be hitting the road in droves, including those leaving the Lake Tahoe Basin for the coast, east to the Rocky Mountains or to campgrounds around the region.

“The high gas prices might actually benefit the Lake Tahoe area in some respects, especially those leisure travelers in Winnebagos looking to shorten the length of their trip,” said Sean Comey, AAA spokesman. “For people in the Bay Area and Sacramento, Tahoe is pretty close. You may see people putting off their longer trips for destinations closer to home.”

Still motorists should brace themselves for continued high prices at the gas pump, with AAA reporting no sign of relief anytime soon.

In California, AAA reports that all urban and suburban areas and rural communities now pay more than $2.30 per gallon on average. As of Wednesday the statewide average for gasoline was $2.36 a gallon with the average in the Lake Tahoe Basin about $2.42.

In Nevada, AAA reports gasoline statewide at more than $2 a gallon. Carson City has the most expensive gas at an average of $2.31 a gallon, Reno at $2.29, Sparks, $2.28 and Las Vegas, $2.23. Elko has the cheapest gas, reported at $2.04. Nevada motorists are paying the fifth-highest prices in the nation, after California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington, Comey said.

Despite the prices, traveling by automobile is by far one of the cheapest means of transportation. While the spike in gas prices has made people unhappy, typical weekend warrior vacationers coming to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area are looking at paying $5 to $10 more for their trip, Comey said.

“Of course you’d rather spend that money someplace else, but is it enough to get you to cancel your vacation? For the most part, probably not,” Comey said.

The benefit for Tahoe residents heading out either east or west depends on whether people want to look at the bright side of the gas situation, he said jokingly.

“Either way you go, once you are at the top it is all pretty much a downhill drive,” he said.

Meanwhile, passenger numbers continue to climb at Reno/Tahoe International Airport, which is expecting an onslaught of travelers beginning today.

“We certainly expect it to be busy, maybe a little busier than usual this year because of gas prices,” said airport spokesman Brian Kulpin.

With new warnings of possible terrorism in the U.S., airport officials say travelers can expect longer lines during the passenger screening process.

Travelers should arrive 90 minutes early and have their IDs ready. Also, airport officials recommend travelers use the SkyCab curbside service when checking in luggage. If passengers have electronic tickets they will still need to get a boarding pass at the check-in counter, Kulpin said.


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