Hundreds of Rainbows set up forest camp in Routt County

Suzie Romig
Steamboat Pilot & Today
Rainbow Family of the Living Light member Roses Rainbow walks with her duck, Quack, along Routt County Road 80 on Friday, June 18, 2022. Family members have already started arriving at the site of the 50th annual gathering, which takes place July 1-7 in Routt County.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

In a cross between a huge family reunion and a rustic mountain man rendezvous, the 50th anniversary national assembly of the Rainbow Gathering of the Living Light and Love is taking shape in north Routt County, near the boarder with Moffat County.

On Friday, several hundred Rainbows had already arrived in everything from old buses and campers to vans and sedans to set up the forest camp north of Hayden that could attract approximately 10,000 people. The goal of the group is to build peace and community with each other.

“Rainbow is about loving each other where we are. We learn to live in peace for a few weeks,” said Brightwings, who goes by her Rainbow name.

Brightwings was wearing a “Be Kind” T-shirt and hails from Arizona. Her father, Harold Williams, was one of the original founders of the Rainbow Gathering. The Rainbow Gatherings that promote peace on earth have been taking place since 1972. Previous gatherings have been in Grand County and in Routt County at Big Red Park in 2006.

Although the official gathering is July 1-7, several hundred were on site Friday along Routt County Road 80 in an area of beautiful meadows, creeks and hiking trails called Adams Park about three miles north of California Park. More attendees arrived gradually throughout the day to set up camps and volunteer for duties.

Many people at this early stage of the Rainbow Gathering shared hugs and greeted each other “welcome home” or “lovin’ you.” Small groups of attendees were busy staging supplies for multiple kitchen areas and a kids’ activities area, and another team was setting up a water-delivery system from nearby springs.

One area was set up as “Handicamp” for older or disabled Rainbows, and another area was designated as bus camp. Others were setting up tents or tarp shelters along Forest Service Trail 1144. One mile from the trailhead is a large, crescent-shaped forest meadow where the group’s silent peace celebration will happen on the morning of July 4.

With most of the preparation work expected to be completed by June 27, hundreds to thousands of campers will stay in open areas along County Road 80, trail 1144 and at the edges of the meadow, Brightwings said. The campers will spend hours talking, singing, dancing, playing instruments, making art and meeting new friends.

Brave, a Rainbow from Florida who travels year-round, said he attended a previous regional gathering in Florida, noting, he “felt nothing but love in that forest.” He came to Colorado to meet and learn from new people.

“Everybody here wants to be here. Everybody, for the most part, contributes to the collective whole,” Brave said. “Everybody does a little bit, and we all get by.”

At noon Friday, a group of about seven U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers and leaders arrived for a prescheduled meeting to continue conversations about resource management concerns.

One out-of-state Forest Service official with a K-9 partner remained with the Forest Service vehicles and noted he was one of six or seven K-9 officers called in as part of the national USFS Incident Management Team.

“We are not here to mess things up. Our people try really hard to respect the earth,” Brightwings said. “It has been a struggle to have people take us both seriously and kindly.”

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