June 30, 2022 |

This year’s gathering of the Rainbow Family in the Routt National Forest just over the Wyoming state line “officially” starts tomorrow. Attendees have been amassing at Adams Park for the last two weeks.

Some have arrived in run-down, hippie-style school buses true to their stereotype, others in late model pickups, RVs and sedans. Depending on whom you talk to in person or online, live the off the land or by hand-out, the counter-culture group resembles either the Partridge Family or the Manson Family.

Carbon County Emergency Manager Lenny Layman toured the scene on Monday when about 2,000 so-called Rainbows were on site. Layman said after talking with law enforcement officers in Steamboat he was apprehensive about what he would he find on his tour, but Layman said the attendees he encountered appeared friendly.

The U.S. Forest Service has deployed a large contingent of law enforcement officers to the scene to make sure the 50th anniversary gathering of the group stays peaceful.

Layman drove from Hayden, Colorado to Encampment on Monday. He described what he saw along the way.

Photographs sent to Bigfoot 99 by a Baggs resident bear out the emergency manager’s observations. About a dozen photos depict law enforcement officers in multiple vehicles on Monday working stretches of Routt County Road 80, stopping and searching cars in the vicinity of the gathering. The pictures also show vehicles packed into parking areas and garbage bags beginning to pile up.

Julie McKinstry Mayer of Baggs is documenting the gathering as part of her mission to put a halt to the unsanctioned events on public lands. Mayer said she grew up near Missoula, Montana and went to school in Bozeman. During that time she said the Rainbows trashed the forests while hiding behind their idealistic slogans of peace, love and respect for the land.

Mayer is documenting the 50th anniversary event with photographs, video and screen shots of chat rooms where Rainbow representatives do public relations work and make decisions on behalf of a group that claims it has no leaders.

The group already has interrupted the quiet life of the residents who have cabins, properties and even working ranches in the area. Mayer said ranchers have been forced to use horse trailers to move their cattle rather than trail them down the usually sparsely traveled County Road 80. EMS was called to the scene Saturday after a car rolled. And despite the advertised USFS last weekend of the temporary closure of California Park, Mayer said she saw the gate to the rich, natural resource area open on Monday. Mayer said lurking beneath the façade of the peaceful hippie vibe at the Rainbow encampment is a feeling of danger.

While touring the camp, Mayer said she spotted the recreational vehicle that was involved in the illegal dumping incident on U.S. 40 two weeks ago. Mayer photographed the piles of garbage then and posted them online. She said she gave a report to the Moffatt County Sherif’s Department. Since then, a dump site for Rainbows has now been established just outside of Baggs in Carbon County.

The initial estimates that the golden anniversary gathering of the Rainbows might attract 10,000 or more people have been scaled back. Layman said he wasn’t sure where Forest Service people were getting their intel, but the gathering may top out below 10,000.

Layman said Carbon County Emergency Management operations will be on standby status throughout the incident and will be able to provide assistance to Forest Service and Colorado agencies if needed.

We’ll have more on that part of the story tomorrow.

For more information visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/rainbowgathering or contact the Public Information Line at 970-364-2201 or email SM.FS.RainbowIMT@usda.gov.

Previous articleWGFD asking boaters to take care to avoid spreading invasive species
Next articleWGFD lifts creel limit on Saratoga Lake


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here