Gas prices in Montana have climbed an average of 40 cents per gallon in just a week, with the average price in Billings today (3/7) hitting $3.795 a gallon for regular. In Missoula, it's a little higher at $3.814 a gallon, according to the latest data from AAA. Most of us can deal with a price change of a few cents per gallon, but when it starts creeping dangerously close to $4 per gallon, many Montanans are starting to feel the pinch.

Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash
Photo by Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash
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The difference between $3 a gallon and $4 a gallon really adds up.

My car holds approximately seventeen gallons from Empty to Full. At $3 a gallon, I can fill up for $51. When gas hits $4 a gallon (as it almost certainly will) that same tank of gas will cost $68. Ouch. So, how much more will it cost for a popular Montana road trip this summer? Say, from Billings to Whitefish, an 878-mile roundtrip journey?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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What a difference a year makes.

In March 2021, the average price of gas in Montana was around $2.60 a gallon (AAA). If your vehicle gets 20 miles per gallon, the drive from Billings to Whitefish and back would have cost about $115 in regular fuel. That same trip at today's current average price ($3.80) will cost $167.  If gas hits $5 a gallon (please, no), your drive to the Flathead will set you back $220. Almost twice as much as last year.

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Photo by Ashe Walker on Unsplash
Photo by Ashe Walker on Unsplash
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Will we see less tourism this year?

A caller on our News/Talk station today brought up an interesting point... perhaps we will see fewer tourists driving to Montana this year. Image the 3,600-mile roundtrip drive from the midwest (Dayton, OH) to Glacier National Park. Using the 20 mpg X $5/gallon formula, that trip will cost $900 in fuel alone!

Are you scaling back any travel plans because of gas prices? At what point will you say, "nope."? $4 a gallon? $5 a gallon? Drop a comment or reach out to me at Michael.Foth@TownSquareMedia.com

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