FARMINGTON &mdash: Travelers on Labor Day weekend are likely to face higher gas prices as they hit the road.

Drivers are paying more for gas than they did a year ago. Regular gas cost a national average of $3.74 per gallon on Saturday, up from $3.58 at this time last year, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, which tracks gas prices around the nation.

Pump prices across the nation have steadily risen in the past month, up 25 cents.

Some local residents said they plan to stick close to home on Labor Day weekend. With Farmington schools in full swing, that makes it hard for families to get away.

"I really don't travel during the school year," said Jamie Breakell, who was filling up at Smith's on Saturday.

Breakell has a young son, and also drives buses for Farmington Municipal School District. She said she made one road trip this summer, to Albuquerque.

For drivers like Leroy Novak of Farmington, getting in the car is a necessary evil. "I don't drive any more than I have to," he said.

David Holmes, a Farmington therapist, said he also took only one road trip this summer, to Denver. His family was discussing how to spend Labor Day weekend, and gas prices were a factor. "It would be nice if gas prices went back down," he said.

Holmes often drives to Albuquerque for work. He said he usually stops to fill up on the way back just to avoid paying more at home.

"It's cheaper just to get it in Cuba," he said of the Sandoval County town along U.


Advertisement

S. Highway 550.

Although national prices have jumped, regionally the increase has been more moderate. On Saturday, regular gas cost $3.56 per gallon on average in Durango, Colo., up 7 cents in the past month. That was actually down 3 cents from the same point in 2011.

Albuquerque drivers have seen a steep increase in fuel prices. Gas in New Mexico's largest city cost $3.49 on average Saturday, up 29 cents in the past month. That was about 10 cents more costly than a year ago.

AAA does not publish gas prices for Farmington, where most stations were advertising regular gas for about $3.54 per gallon on Saturday. Diesel remains much costlier, at a national average of $4.03 per gallon.

Gas prices tend to spike during holiday weekends as demand rises and vehicles clog the roads. However, gas prices may fall after Labor Day weekend, an analyst said.

"As the West Coast and Great Lakes see refining issues in the rearview mirror, as well as the end of the summer driving season approaching, we may see a new downward pattern develop which could see average prices falling, especially after mid-September," said Patrick DeHaan, analyst for the website Gasbuddy.com.

The pattern "could dominate the gas pump until the holiday season," he said in a prepared statement.

Labor Day weekend with offer local events for those staying close to home. The Totah Festival events begin 5-7 p.m. Friday with a poster unveiling and juried art competition at Gateway Park and Museum. The popular and colorful powwow is 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at Farmington Civic Center. The Totah Festival Indian Market also is held at the Civic Center.

Aztec Speedway hosts races at 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday next weekend.