The American Automobile Association (AAA) Club estimates 43.8 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend – approaching 2005’s record of 44 million travelers. In Washington, the estimate is a bit over one million who plan to travel on the road during the holiday weekend. Nationwide, car travel is expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels.

Over 85% of all travel will involve a car. Another 8% is expected to be through the air according to the AAA.

Fortunately, gas prices in Washington are close to where they were last year at this time and down about six cents a gallon from a month ago, but higher in surrounding states. The average price of a gallon of regular gas across the nation is around $3.60, about 5 cents higher than a year ago. In the western U.S. though, the price of gas remains higher than the national average. Washington is currently at about $4.60 per gallon. California sits around $5.19 per gallon, Oregon $4.37, Idaho $3.81, and British Columbia $6.28 per gallon (converted from liters).

Here are some holiday travel tips heading into the weekend:


Memorial Day Weekend has the stigma that it always rains. So far this century, there have been 10 different years with no rain at all including last year, and seven more years where it rained but just one day during the three-day weekend. This year looks to have a good chance at another single wet day for the whole weekend.

In Western Washington including the North Sound, the weekend will have a mix of clouds and sun. The only real threat of any light showers is on Saturday with highs around 60 degrees.  The rest of the holiday weekend looks to have an increasing amount of sunshine with highs by Monday climbing to near 70 degrees. Lows throughout the weekend will be in the 40s.

East of the Cascades weather will also offer a threat of showers and even a chance of a thunderstorm Saturday with highs ranging from 55 to 65 degrees. Sunday and Monday are expected to dry out and warm up with highs by Monday rising into the mid-60s to mid-70s. Lows will generally be in the 40s.

If heading into the Cascades or Olympics for the weekend, expect the best chance for showers to be on Saturday with conditions drying out Sunday and Monday. The snow level on Saturday is anticipated to be around 4000 feet.

On the Road

The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) strongly suggests traveling during non-peak times during the holiday weekend.

If you are planning to head north toward the Canadian border, drive east of the Cascades, head south toward Portland, or take a ferry going west. Friday from about midday through sunset is the busiest and slowest drive period. WSDOT suggests hitting the road before 10 a.m. on getaway Friday. On Saturday in all directions, another peak in traffic volumes is late morning through mid-afternoon.

Returning from the holiday weekend will also be a chore. The peak times start late in the morning on Monday, Memorial Day, and continue through to about sundown. Again, WSDOT suggests leaving Sunday, early Monday morning, or waiting until later Monday night, or even Tuesday.

For the details of expected peak travel times heading north, south, or east, as well as the return from your destination, the state DOT has a Memorial Day Weekend Travel Times webpage.

The Washington State Ferries simply says to expect long terminal wait times on Friday, May 24 heading westbound, and again on both Sunday and Monday, May 26 and 27 for eastbound sailings.

Wherever you go this holiday weekend, drive safely and pack your patience. Your nerves will feel better by leaving way early or way late to avoid those peak travel periods. And on Monday – Memorial Day, remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for our country and freedom.