BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Utah gas prices are about a dollar more than in Colorado. Why?

Apr 26, 2024, 6:00 AM

Gas prices in Utah are almost a whole dollar more on average compared to Colorado....

A man refuels his car at a gas station. (ETIENNE LAURENT /EPA-EFE /Shutterstock)

(ETIENNE LAURENT /EPA-EFE /Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a big difference when it comes to gas prices in Utah vs. the state’s next door neighbors in Colorado. In Salt Lake City, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.92. Just south of Denver, you can find the same stuff for almost a whole dollar less at $2.97. Some stations in Denver are selling for as low as $2.71. Why is that?

The short answer is the Rocky Mountains.

A map of gas prices in the United States.

A map of gas prices in the United States. (screenshot from GasBuddy.com)

“A lot of it has to do with the source of where exactly Utah’s getting gas from,” said Julian Paredes, a spokesperson with AAA, “even though geographically Utah and Colorado are very close. I would speculate that the Rockies are between a lot of the refinery production in Colorado. So it’s more likely that Utah’s getting its gas from a more southwest area. Like California.”

He continued to say that Utah gas prices are similar to Nevada and Arizona, states that also get gas from California.

Gas prices and the cost of oil

Paredes told KSL that the biggest factor in gas prices is the cost of oil.

“[Oil has] been more expensive for the last few weeks, few months. So that’s definitely going to make gas more expensive every for everybody,” Paredes said,  “But there’s also things like regionality, different states have different laws when it comes to taxes or environmental factors. California has the strictest in the country.”

Paredes said that even though the price of oil is relatively the same for everyone in the country, these strict environmental factors make “California gas”

“And a lot of it has to do with seasonality. (It’s) springtime right now,” he said, “so more people are out driving and there’s more demand for gas.”

Paredes said that gasoline is about $82 a barrel right now, and he said that’s good news.

He also said that the situations in Israel and Ukraine had a big impact in the cost of oil.

Looking forward 

“At least in the short term,” said Paredes, “gas prices are going up dramatically, but the next big thing to watch out for is Memorial Day. That kind of marks unofficially the start of summer travel season, and that’s usually when gas prices are highest, the beginning of summertime.”

Derrick Jones contributed to this story.

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Utah gas prices are about a dollar more than in Colorado. Why?