NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – More drivers are expected on New Mexico roads and other regional routes for Thanksgiving travel this year, according to the latest forecast from AAA New Mexico. The travel association projects more than four-million drivers will roll 50 miles or more from home across the Mountain states’ roadways this year.

The projection is nearly the same amount of traffic as seen prior to 2020’s pandemic-era Thanksgiving. 2022’s projection is just 3% shy of 2019 numbers. AAA New Mexico’s forecast covers eight regional states, including the Land of Enchantment, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Idaho.

“It’s looking to be a pretty busy Thanksgiving weekend from that Wednesday to Sunday,” said Joshua Zuber, spokesperson for AAA New Mexico and Texas. “If you are going to be headed out, whether its on the roadways, prepare for traffic, make sure your vehicle is well maintained and you yourself are ready to go with plenty of rest the night before [leaving to your destination.]”

Nearly 49 million people in all are expected to hit the roads across the U.S., roughly 7% of those in the Mountain states according to AAA. Automobile travel remains the most popular form of Thanksgiving transit, with around 48.7 million expected to travel by car in the U.S., compared to roughly 4.5 million air travelers.

According to the agency, the top travel destinations for New Mexicans include Washington State, Vermont, San Diego, Arizona and Tacoma, Washington, just outside of Seattle. The top Thanksgiving travel destinations nationally include Orlando, Anaheim, Las Vegas, Nevada, New York City and Atlanta, according to AAA.

Gas Prices

Earlier in 2022, New Mexicans saw gas prices spike amid the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline spiked in New Mexico at $4.83 on June 15.

Heading into the Thanksgiving travel week, New Mexico’s gas prices rank the 17th least expensive in the U.S., sitting at around $3.54 per gallon. That price is likely to stay relatively stable over the next week baring any unforeseen crises.

“There are some indications that significant pump price declines may be done for the coming weeks,” according to AAA New Mexico spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “Many US refineries are now mostly focused on producing diesel fuel to address the worldwide shortage as a result of the Ukraine war.”

Across the state, the Albuquerque-area appears to be paying the least amount of money for a gallon of regular gas at roughly $3.34 per gallon, according to data from AAA. That’s roughly two cents lower than average prices last week.

The price is roughly 17 cents per gallon more in 2022 than this same time last year, in 2021. The average price of gas across the U.S. is currently $3.80 per gallon, AAA says.

The travel association’s data suggests the Santa Fe area is averaging roughly $3.47 per gallon of regular this week, compared to $3.66/gallon in the Las Cruces-area, and $3.88/gallon around Farmington. Those prices have dropped just slightly from the week prior, between one and three cents per gallon on average.

In terms of cheapest gas in the U.S., Texas and Georgia are tied at the low end of the chart, with an average of $3.16/gallon statewide. On the higher end, California and Hawaii are respectively paying $5.46/gallon and $5.20/gallon, on average, according to AAA data.