Country Thunder adjusts traffic strategy to prepare for ​massive crowds this weekend

Last year they had a traffic problem, so they've taken some steps to alleviate that this year.
Last year they had a traffic problem, so they've taken some steps to alleviate that this year.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 8:34 PM MST
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FLORENCE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- One of the biggest Arizona music festivals returns Thursday — Country Thunder out in Florence! They have some major names lined up for this weekend, and with the big names, bring the big crowds. Last year they had a traffic problem, so they’ve taken some steps to alleviate that this year.

Wednesday evening, campers were already ready to go at Country Thunder. All the RVs descended on the grounds Wednesday morning. “Got here about 3:30 in the morning, pulled off on the side of the road, and slept until the gates opened,” said Tim Wuerfel, who drove overnight from Huntington Beach, CA.

“Driving on the 60 was fine, 79 was fine, it was when we hit Florence it was bumper to bumper, but it was moving,” said Karen Gass, who has been coming to Country Thunder for 11 years.

Last year’s shows were extremely popular, and this year they’re expecting about 35,000 people per day to attend.

There was a big focus on a specific part of operations this year. “The traffic issue — we put that at the top of our priority list to make sure everybody can get in,” said Megan Benoit with Country Thunder. Last year people waited up to five hours in traffic to see Luke Combs on Saturday.

Country Thunder staff said the reality here is this is on a ranch with one-way roads in and out, but this year they’re trying something a little different, widening the roads to make them two lanes. “By widening the lanes, we can get multiple cars in at once, and then same exiting,” said Benoit.

Campers already noticed the change. “They opened two lanes once you got into the grounds, and that made a world of difference, we think, from previous years,” said Gass.

Staff said it’s still smart to leave early on any of the days you plan to come, especially on Saturday when headliner Morgan Wallen performs. The demand was so high to see him that they released extra tickets for his show. “We know that Saturday is going to be crazy busy. People are so excited for Morgan Wallen,” said Benoit. “Come as early as you can. Gates open at one-o-clock, and you’re going to have much more fun having a full day out here than sitting in traffic.”

Many campers also said they came Wednesday and won’t be leaving until Monday; that way, they avoid any traffic altogether and can enjoy the weekend. But if you are coming from the Valley, especially for Blake Shelton on Friday and Morgan Wallen on Saturday, the Country Thunder staff suggests leaving in the early afternoon with the expectation of heavy traffic into the grounds.