June 27, 2022 |

The U.S. Forest Service established a temporary closure Saturday for the California Park area of the Routt National Forest near where the Rainbow Family is gathering.

With traffic already increasing on the usually lightly traveled County Road 80 north from Hayden to the gathering site, the Forest Order was established to protect sensitive natural resources.

Forest Service officials coordinated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials in issuing the temporary closure order. In June, protecting calving elk and sand hill cranes are two top priorities. California Park is south of the Rainbow Gathering. Routt County Road 80 remains open.

Temporary area closure established in California Park. Click to view larger. Map courtesy USFS.


That was one of the Forest Service officials who participated in the online public meeting last Tuesday. The official, who only went by the name Jamie on the forum, said a temporary closure was under consideration. Forest Supervisor Russ Bacon said closing portions of forests is only done “during time of extreme circumstances.”

Pictured above (top): An aerial view of a Rainbow Family camp outside of Craig, CO on Friday, June 24, 2022. Photo credit Arlen Hughes.

Specific area closure boundaries are defined in the Forest Order, including several Level 2 roads and a trail. The land impacted coincides with the California Park Special Interest Area.

Social impacts from the Rainbow Gathering came up at Tuesday night’s Saratoga Town Council meeting. Councilman Ben Spaulding said he and Police Chief Ken Lehr are coordinating with Carbon County Emergency Manager Lenny Layman for contingency planning for various eventualities. Spaulding said one of the concerns is Carbon County could become an escape route if a forest fire were to occur during the gathering.

Chief Lehr said even if the gathering is emergency-free, Saratoga’s hot pools will serve as a natural draw for people attending the event. Lehr said the town will likely see an influx of Rainbows before and after the gathering.

The Rainbow Gathering is scheduled from July 1st through July 7th. Aerial photographs sent to Bigfoot 99 on Friday show that dispersed camping is beginning to expand in the Adams Park area, in the meadow and nearby stands of trees. The Forest Service advises that some hiking trails near the gathering are anticipated to be “highly trafficked and even inaccessible at times.”

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.


Related: Rainbows attend public meeting, say only an estimated 5,000 people will attend gathering

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