TWIN FALLS — Paul Melni was getting dozens of phone calls Thursday, as visitors from California to New York were asking about boat rentals with AWOL Adventure Sports.
“Our reservations are through the roof,” Melni said. “Friday is almost booked up.”
He expects this holiday weekend to be busier than last year, with an influx of out-of-town visitors. It’s likely to happen, as AAA projects Fourth of July travel volume to be the highest on record — with 44.2 million Americans traveling from Friday to Tuesday.
Those travelers will include an estimated 221,000 Idahoans, about 89 percent of whom will be driving, despite an uptick in gas prices over the past month.
“An improving job market, high consumer confidence and relatively affordable gas prices will motivate many Americans to visit loved ones for food, fireworks, and fun this year,” AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde said in a statement.
On Thursday alone, Melni had received calls from people all over Idaho, Nevada, California and Florida. Friday was the most reserved day so far, while the Fourth of July (Tuesday) had the fewest reservations.
At Jerome’s KOA Holiday Campground, Friday was also the most popular day for reservations, but some sites were still available. Manager Michael Carranza said he generally gets a lot of last-minute reservations from visitors coming to town.
AAA reports that in the last four years, overall travel has grown by 10 percent.
The average price for a gallon of gas in Twin Falls Thursday was $2.59 — an increase of 21 cents from 2016. Idaho ranked seventh highest in the nation for gas prices.
“This area has seen substantial growth population-wise, but what we haven’t seen is a real change in our supply,” Conde said.
Supplies in the U.S. are abundant, and prices will eventually come down in the West, he said.
“Even though prices aren’t great for gas this year, they’re close enough that they shouldn’t break anyone’s budget going into the holiday,” Conde said. “People are just very optimistic.”