If you're fed up with high gasoline prices, you might want to avoid the roads less traveled.
In the remote town of Hana on the Hawaiian island of Maui, you'll find vistas of natural beauty and what may be the nation's most expensive regular-grade gasoline at $6.03 a gallon. You also might skip the scenic drive along Highway 190 in Death Valley, which will lead you to the Furnace Creek Resort, where regular was selling for $5.75 a gallon Tuesday.
"It's a resort. They charge what they want," said Raymond, a fellow who declined to give his last name and said he answers the phone at the Furnace Creek Chevron now and then. "Don't come here for the gasoline."
The price information comes from GasPrices.Mapquest.com one of a handful of services that try to keep motorists informed about the highest and lowest prices along their driving routes. Others include GasBuddy.com which uses volunteer "spotters" who police each other's postings, and the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, which updates prices daily.
Christian Dwyer, general manager for AOL-owned MapQuest Inc., said that the company started superimposing gasoline prices on its road maps when fuel costs headed toward record highs in 2008. Dwyer said that MapQuest began promoting the service again when gas prices renewed their upward spiral, and Tuesday introduced a fuel-price app for Android smartphones to go along with one already available for iPhones.
"Gas prices are not usually a first order of concern for users, but it is now with prices so high," Dwyer said.
MapQuest uses data from the Oil Price Information Service, an energy information company based in Wall, N.J., and Wright Express Corp., a fleet management company based in South Portland, Maine. The two companies compile their price reports using credit card transactions from more than 100,000 retail outlets across the U.S. They also supply data to AAA, which posts daily averages for metropolitan areas, states and the nation at http://www.FuelGaugeReport.aaa.com.
Nationally, the average for a gallon of regular gasoline climbed 1.5 cents overnight to $3.967 on Tuesday, according to AAA, and analysts widely expect the U.S. average to hit $4 a gallon within the week for the first time since the summer of 2008.
In California, the average reached $4.265 a gallon Tuesday, second only to Hawaii at $4.572. Hana is too small to show up on the AAA or MapQuest lists; the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper reported that it passed the $6 mark last week.
The cheapest gasoline in the U.S. at one point Tuesday was at the Loaf N Jug No. 107 in Casper, Wyo., where regular was selling for $3.36 a gallon.
"This is great," said Amanda Marshall, 29, who has worked at the Loaf N Jug for two years. "People drive through here from Colorado and Montana, and they're always saying, 'Holy moly! You guys are way less expensive.'"