Motorists travel to Little Cottonwood Canyon on March 16. Memorial Day weekend is expected to lead to an increase in travel, including people going to Utah outdoors. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY – Memorial Day weekend is often regarded as the informal start of summer, especially as the school year draws to a close and families want to travel.
The AAA unveiled its travel estimates earlier this month, predicting that 39.2 million Americans will either fly or ride this weekend, up 8% from last year. Travel is expected to increase despite high inflation and gas prices.
Utah National Parks and Outdoors appears to be one of the state’s most popular destination destinations this year, according to state tourism experts and national park rangers. After high traffic last year, some of these parks are currently busier than last year.
So if you are planning to travel or stay home for the weekend, here is everything you need to know.
Where road delays are expected
Motorists are expected to make up the majority of vacation trips. In fact, the AAA outlook estimates that almost 90% of all holiday travelers will drive this weekend. Utah Department of Transportation traffic engineers have highlighted the areas in Utah that are likely to have the most congestion during this travel weekend.
- Delays of up to 15 minutes north of I-15 in Davis County from 1 to 7 p.m.
- Delays of up to 10 minutes on I-15 heading south to Salt Lake County from 2 to 5 p.m.
- Delays of up to 15 minutes on I-15 heading south near Nephi from 2 to 6 p.m.
- Delays of up to 20 minutes north of I-15 near Nephi from 2 to 7 p.m.
- It is up to 30 minutes late on US 6 heading west to the Spanish Fork Canyon from 2 to 7 p.m.
Other congestion areas
UDOT spokesman John Gleason said most of the agency’s ongoing projects will be suspended this weekend to help open all lanes and reduce traffic delays from Friday to Monday.
However, there will still be some restrictions on work zones this weekend to ensure safety. These can lead to some additional delays.
- I-70: The freeway is reduced to one lane in each direction between Cove Fort and the I-15, while crews replace the drive surface and barrier walls on the I-70 bridge over the I-15.
- I-80 and I-215: The lanes shift to I-80 between 1300 east and 2300 east and to I-215 between 3300 south and 4500 south in Salt Lake County. The I-215 off-ramp to the south at 3900 South is also closed as crews continue to work on improving the road in the area.
- I-84: The freeway is reduced to one lane in each direction between Morgan and Henefer, while crews continue to maintain the road and bridge in the area.
- US 40: The eastbound direction of the motorway decreases in a lane north of the town of Heber near the Jordanelle reservoir. Drivers will have to wait for “heavy truck traffic” on Friday afternoon as crews continue to repair concrete pavements and replace bridge driveways over the Provo River.
Where gas is the most expensive and the least expensive
Those traveling by car should also expect to pay more at the pump. The price of regular gas in Utah is about $ 4.60 per gallon for the holiday weekend, which is $ 1.25 per gallon more than the same period last year, according to data from AAA on Wednesday.
It is more expensive in some parts of the state than in others. For example, it is generally more expensive in the southwest and northeast corners of the state and cheaper in central and eastern Utah.
Five Most Expensive Utah County
- Piute: $ 4.90
- Beaver: $ 4.85
- Kane: $ 4.84
- Daggett: $ 4.83
- Rich: $ 4.82
Five cheapest counties in Utah
- Uintah: $ 4.50
- Duchesne: $ 4.53
- Sevier: $ 4.54
- Utah: $ 4.54
- Sanpete: $ 4.54
Utah itself is right on the national average, even though the West has some of the highest gas prices in the country right now.
California’s $ 6.07 per gallon leads the way on Wednesday. That said, other states west of Bee State are well above the national average. Nevada, Oregon and Washington all have prices in excess of $ 5 per gallon.
Areas just east of Utah have some of the lowest prices in the country. For example, the average price in Colorado is $ 4.21 per gallon, which is 39 cents cheaper per gallon than both the Utah and national averages. Oklahoma has the cheapest gas right now, costing consumers $ 4.08 per gallon.
SLC Airport is approaching normal
Of course, some travelers will fly to other destinations. Salt Lake City International Airport officials expect travel to be closer to pre-pandemic levels this weekend.
About 25,000 passengers are expected to pass through the front doors of the airport on Friday. this number does not take into account the return flights that will also take place on Friday. Estimates for Monday and Tuesday have not yet been calculated. The Memorial Day weekend brought a maximum of 28,600 travelers in one day in 2019 for comparison before the pandemic.
This shows how long it took airlines to return to pre-pandemic numbers, but this recovery could be relatively soon.
“Predictions are that the 2022 summer travel season will be busy, with Americans ready to go out and travel again,” airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer told KSL.com. “(It will be interesting to watch.”
The UTA program
For those using public transportation this weekend, including TRAX to the airport, the Utah Transit Authority will be scheduled for Saturday on this Memorial Day. This means that there will be a FrontRunner service available for the holidays, along with other forms of public transport that usually also operate on Saturdays.
What about Utah Parks?
Utah tourism experts expect there to be plenty of trips to Utah National and State Parks this weekend, so this is usually the time to visit.
Zion National Park may well be the top destination. After receiving 5 million visitors for the first time last year, it is already on track for a busier year in 2022. More than 1.2 million people visited the park in the first four months of the year, or about 14,000 ahead of its first third in 2021. – and this despite the fact that the January visit ended with about 31,000 fewer visitors than January 2021.
The park received almost 500,000 visitors in April this year, which would be the first. And Memorial Day weekend is expected to be as busy as ever, said Jonathan Schaefer, a spokesman for the park.
“If you visit this weekend, prepare your patience,” he said in a statement. “We want you to enjoy your visit and we want to be realistic about what you can expect during your stay at the park.”
As the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is about seven miles long with about a dozen “known hikes”, Shafer urges visitors to be prepared for delays. The entrances to the park’s vehicles may also be closed at points during the weekend to reduce congestion and congestion.
People who have their eyes fixed on other gems across the state may face similar delays this weekend. There is only one Lake Powell ramp open for most boat launches and all quagga mussel inspections. The shortage of manpower will also cause some delays in boat inspections near Lake Bear.
As with all outdoor sites, the Utah Bureau of Tourism has published a handful of helpful tips for people planning to travel this weekend.
- Find out before you go. Plan a trip in advance and research your destination before you travel to take into account any delays or issues that may arise.
- Stay on trails and camp only at designated or existing campsites.
- Apply the “Leave No Trace” principles by packing whatever you pack. Also, protect the indigenous cultural heritage by looking at and not touching any rocky images and / or historical inscriptions you may come across.
- Minimize the effects of fire. Use a camping stove and extinguish any fire by drowning the ashes until they cool to the touch.
- Keep wildlife wild. Do not feed wildlife and keep a safe distance from wildlife.
- Do not hide the countryside for yourself. Share our parks, trails and roads.
If you are staying for the weekend but planning to attend an event or picnic, Memorial Day itself will not be as hot as the days before, especially in northern Utah. Thursday is forecast to be the hottest day of the year across the state, as a high-pressure ridge moves ahead of the weekend, said KSL meteorologist Matt Johnson.
High temperatures are forecast in the 1980s and low temperatures in the 1990s in most of Utah on Thursdays and Fridays. It can even reach a three-digit number in and around Agios Georgios.
But this will not last long. Rain and lower temperatures are on the other side of the system for the northern half of the state. It starts with some rain in northern Utah on Friday morning, with more clouds, rain and lower temperatures for the rest of the weekend.
“If you have holiday plans in the northern half (of Utah) this weekend, you will probably encounter wind and even some rain,” Johnson said.
The southern half of the state will remain mostly hot and dry. High temperatures are expected to drop only in the 80’s on Memorial Day around Agios Georgios.
Full seven-day forecasts for areas across Utah can be found online at KSL Weather Center.