On the final day (July 7) of each annual Rainbow Gathering, a Vision Council is held to select the general location for the following year's gathering. At the 1991 gathering on the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont, controversy developed over whether Colorado or South Dakota had been selected as the state for the 1992 gathering. The majority of the Rainbow Family felt Colorado was the selected state, and began making preparations.

In early May, a Rainbow Scout Camp was established near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. This was the base camp for Rainbow Scouts looking for the ideal gathering spot. The family would not confirm a location for their summer gathering, at this time. One family member listed the criteria they were using to find a site:

- 8500 to 9500 feet in elevation.

Rainbow Gathering 1992

- parking separate from the main camp with a 4 to 5 mile hike into the main camp.

- "volcanic" source of drinking water to pipe into camp.

- two large meadows, at a minimum:

+ one approximately 100 acres in size for main camp,

+ one approximately 20 acres for the praying circle to accommodate 0,000 people, 1 to 2 miles away from main camp, higher in elevation than main camp.

- a good area for parking all vehicles, including bus village.

- the area doesn't need to be flat, just big enough and "tough" enough to withstand all the people.

In late May, the Rainbow camp moved to Taylor Park, near Gunnison Colorado, to hold a Spring Council. In past years, annual gatherings have been held within 50 miles of Spring Council locations. The Forest Service contacted the family to determine where the gathering would occur, but no confirmation was given.

Cold weather and pressure from Gunnison County caused the Spring Council camp to disburse, on June 2-3. The Rainbow Family established a hotline phone number which members could call to find out about the gathering. By calling this number, the Forest Service discovered the Family was being directed to Overland Reservoir. On June 4, six Rainbow Family members were camping at Overland Reservoir. The family would not confirm that Overland Reservoir was the place until June 9.

Overland Reservoir is located 27 miles from the town of Paonia. (See vicinity map in Figure 1.) The gathering occurred on approximately 2500 acres surrounding Overland Reservoir. Located at an average of 10,000 feet in elevation, the main meadow (Elk Park) was approximately one mile west of the reservoir. Most of the camps and kitchens were established in the surrounding spruce/fir covered slopes.

Once Overland Reservoir was confirmed as the gathering site, Forest Service personnel began working closely with Rainbow Family members in locating trails, kitchens, parking and other gathering facilities. A main objective was to minimize the environmental impacts of 15,000 to 20,000 people. Rainbow members were directed to locate facilities away from sensitive areas.


On June 9, when Overland Reservoir was confirmed as the location for the 1992 gathering, an estimated 50 Rainbow Family members were on site. By June 14, approximately 500 people were at Overland Reservoir, with numbers increasing daily. Official daily counts were begun on June 23. Population estimates were based on vehicle counts, assuming five people per vehicle. The graph below shows the population pattern throughout the gathering. The population peaked on July 4, with an estimated 18,275 people.

Rainbow Influx Graph


People arrived at the gathering in many different ways: new cars, old cars, expensive and junkers, rented cars. converted buses, campers. motor homes, motorcycles and on foot. Vehicle counts also peaked on July 4, at 3655.


Overland Reservoir is accessed via two main routes Stevens Gulch Road (Forest Development Road 701) north from Paonia, and Buzzard Divide Road (FDR 265) off Colorado State Highway 133, near McClure Pass. Approximately 213 of the traffic used FDR 701 and 1/3 used FDR 265. The gathering area may also be accessed via State Highway 330, through Collbran; however negligible amounts of Rainbow traffic went this way.

Prior to knowledge of the Rainbow gathering, traffic counters were routinely installed on FDR 701 just inside the Forest boundary north of Paonia, on FDR 265 near the eastern Forest boundary, and on the road accessing Overland Reservoir ~ FDR 705). Average vehicle per day (VPD) counts for the period of June 29 through July 22 are displayed below, along with average counts for approximately the same period in 1991.

Road 6/29 - 7/22/92 1991

265 169 vpd 71 vpd (7/2-7/21)

701 577 vpd 96 vpd (7/2-8/5)

705 377 vpd 41 vpd (7/22-10/26)

Comparing these average traffic counts with daily parked vehicle counts, use peaked on or near July 4th, with 300 vpd on FDR 265, 1000 vpd on FDR 701 and 450 vpd on FDR 70~. To keep these figures in perspective, some major travel routes on the Forest receive peaks of 500-600 vpd on weekends and holidays.

The increased traffic associated with the Rainbow gathering resulted in several problems:

- The amount of traffic and unfamiliarity of gathering participants with Forest road conditions created a safety hazard. All the access routes on the Forest are single-laned gravel roads with turnouts, with the exception of a 4 1/2 mile section of the Stevens Gulch Road that is two-laned. These roads are steep and winding, and it became apparent that many of the gathering participant were not familiar with driving on these types of roads. On June 16, 1992, the Forest Supervisor issued Special Closure Order #03-92 prohibiting reckless driving. This authorized Forest Service law enforcement officers to issue violation notices to reckless drivers. Reckless driving violations far outnumbered all other violations issued during the gathering. The threat of being cited likely deterred many from driving recklessly. Only 10 accidents occurred on Forest roads, none serious.

- Stevens Gulch Road (FDR ,01) was scheduled to be used as a timber hauling route during the gathering. Because of the amount of Rainbow related traffic, the Forest Service felt the safety hazard was too high to allow logging trucks to use FDR 701, and required the timber purchaser to use an alternate haul route. The route change resulted in higher costs to the timber purchaser, which will result in a claim against the Forest Service.

The anticipated use on the Stevens Gulch Road FDR 701) required a previously scheduled road maintenance contract to be accelerated. at a cost of S4300. Additionally, magnesium chloride was applied to ~ L!2 miles for dust abatement and to prevent washboarding from developing into a road hazard, at a cost of 511,000.


Finding suitable parking for the expected 4000 plus vehicles was a major concern during the gathering. The Forest Service evaluated fifteen parks and meadows in the area surrounding Overland Reservoir, and determined ample parking would be available. The Forest Service wanted to minimize both the environmental impacts and the total area effected by the gathering, and worked with the Rainbow Family to locate parking in areas that would be the least impacted.

During the gathering, several closure orders concerning parking were issued by the Forest Supervisor. As Rainbow family numbers increased, parking along the Overland Reservoir access road also increased. To keep this road open, closure order #04-92 was issued prohibiting parking on or within 20 feet of FDR 705.

A conflict developed at Mule Park, located on FDR 265. The Forest Service specified that parking would NOT be allowed at this location for several reasons:

- There was ample parking available closer to the gathering. Mule Park is over 10 miles from Overland Reservoir and would have required an additional 4 mile shuttle tap.

- FDR 265 was a designated timber haul road and there were safety concerns about transporting people in a shuttle vechicle along a designated timber haul route.

- Mule Park is within a different grazing allotment than Overland Reservoir and the Forest Service did not want the Rainbow gathering to impact a third allotment.

- Livestock were scheduled to use Mule Park beginning July 10, and the Forest Service had committed that forage in the area would be protected by not allowing parking and camping to occur.

The Rainbow family began directing people to Mule Park on June 22.

Members of the Incident Command team speculated a group within the Rainbow family had an agenda to find an issue which they could take the Forest Service to court on. Forest Service personnel tried to meet with these people on June 23 and 24 to discuss the problems with parking at Mule Park, but were unsuccessful.

Closure Order #05-92 prohibiting parking and camping in Mule Park was signed by the Forest Supervisor, on June 24. Rainbow Family members were given until midnight on June 27 to move their vehicles, or they would be ticketed and towed at the owners expense. Forest Service personnel took this information into the gathering camp, to encourage people to move their vehicles.

Parking or Camping signs were posted at bible Park on June 25. Ninety-one (91) vehicle were parked there, at this time. No additional vehicles tried to park after the signs were posted.

Alternative parking was established at Government Park, on June 26. This location is closer to the gathering and is accessed by FDR 701, which was not a timber haul route.

The Incident Commander and Forest Administrative Officer spoke with approximately 50 members of the Rainbow Family at a Council meeting, on June 26, where they explained the Forest Service's reasons for not allowing parking at Mule Park.

By June 2, . the number of vehicles parked in Mule Park had dropped to 31. Vehicles continued to leave during the day. Eighteen were left that night.

A small group of 20-30 family members were on site at midnight, to stage a civil disobedience protest over the towing, however the Forest Service did not attempt to tow any vehicles. The crowd dispersed, a few more cars left during June _8, and only six vehicles remained by June 29.

Five vehicles were towed from Mule Park the morning of June 29. .\ caravan of Forest Service vehicles and commercial tow trucks entered the Forest on FDR ~ 01. No resistance was given at Mule Park. The caravan exited the Forest on FDR 265 because if appeared some Rainbows would attempt to block FDR 701 at the intersection with FDR /05. The last vehicle was towed later in the afternoon. No other vehicles parked in this area after this date.

Four main parking areas were established during the course of the gathering. Live-in vehicles were parked at Bus Village and Van Village, on the east side of Overland Reservoir. The largest concentration occurred on July 4, with a combined total of 846 vehicles. Early arrivers parked in designated areas along FDR 700, near the reservoir. Vehicle counts reached 562, in these areas. Vehicles that came up FDR 265 from McClure Pass were directed to Hayrack Park, near the intersection of FDR 265 and FDR 701. This area held up to 519 vehicles. The largest concentration of vehicles was at Government Park, on FDR 701. The high count also occurred on July 4, with 1725 vehicles.

The Rainbow Family posted signs directing people to the parking areas. They also provided parking lot crews to oversee the parking.

Rainbow Family members were shuttled from the outer parking areas to the main camp in pickups and a Ryder rental truck. It was routine for 40-60 individuals to be loaded into the Ryder truck at one time. The county Sheriff contacted the Ryder company concerning the use of their truck as a Shuttle. The company representative asked the Sheriff to tell the Rainbows to read their rental contract, which specifically prohibited hauling passengers; however, the company chose not to pursue the issue. The Rainbow Family was informed of their liability, and the shuttle continued.

The driver of the Ryder shuttle was cited for reckless driving, on one occasion. Other shuttle drivers were stopped several times for carrying passengers on the hood, roof, sides and tailgates of pickups.

F. PARTICIPANT PROFILE (excerpt from 1991 Rainbow Gathering Report)

Rainbow Family members will tell you,' everyone is Rainbow, some just don't know it yet." And, "The only criteria for being Rainbow is that you have a belly button." The human diversity seen at the 1992 Rainbow Gathering seems to substantiate these claims.

In reality, only a portion of those attending a Rainbow Gathering are true Rainbows. This core group consists of people who were part of the 1960's hippie movement, plus others from younger generations who espouse that lifestyle and value system. Even within this core group diversity abounds. Some still live the hippie lifestyle; other are regularly a part of mainstream society but annually/periodically attend Rainbow Gatherings to reconnect with bygone days and friends. They are young, they are old; straight and gay; long haired, skin headed and clad in dreadlocks; totally naked and fully clothed; those who discuss philosophy at length and those who "veg-out" all day; college graduated and high school drop outs; the employed and the chronically unemployed. The Rainbow philosophy of acceptance and tolerance of all people and lifestyles allows such dichotomies to flourish.

Rainbows are also bound together by their common belief and desire for peace, love and respect for Planet Earth and all its inhabitants.

The gathering attracts many others. There are other counter-culture groups represented: religious and satanic cults and biker gangs. There are the 'hangers-on'; homeless and chronically unemployed people who follow the Rainbows because they know they will be accepted, fed and cared for. And there are the curiosity seekers; local citizens as well as those traveling across country and from abroad to experience the phenomena of a Rainbow gathering.


Personal values held by Rainbow Family members are as diverse as the collection of gathering participants. Several core values are shared by family members and were circulated throughout the gathering in Rainbow literature.

ALCOHOL - Rainbows discourage alcohol use and try to restrict its use within the gathering area; however, a special camp - "A" (for abusers) Camp - where alcohol use and abuse occurs, is usually established outside the main gathering. At the 1992 gathering, "A" campers moved into the main gathering before the main event. A large number of beer and wine containers were seen in the recycling piles that were hauled out of the gathering area.

DRUGS - Marijuana and mushrooms are viewed as natural healing herbs by the Rainbow family, and are openly bartered and used during a Rainbow gathering. Use of man-made substances like LSD and crack is not condoned, but does occur at gatherings. There were 11 drug related arrests of family members during the gathering, and LSD was found in a public restroom in Paonia.

NUDITY - Nudity is common and accepted among gathering participants. Several instances of public nudity were also reported in nearby communities.

ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS - Central to Rainbow beliefs is a love and respect for all things natural. Rainbow literature distributed and posted at the gathering encouraged participants to pick up trash, recycle, compost, protect water sources by not camping or washing near them, naturalize campsites and trails, use latrines and bury waste. The majority of participants were very conscious of these things.

SOCIAL ATTITUDES - At Rainbow Family gatherings, most basic needs are provided free of charge: food, shelter, medical attention. Many family members seem to expect similar needs will be freely supplied outside the gathering, as well.

Within the gathering, almost any activity that does not hurt someone else is acceptable. There ;`r~ few restrictions. This attitude manifests itself in the Family not feeling obligated to conform to malls stream society restrictions, including seeking water rights or special use permits.


The Rainbow Family is not a "formal" organization. They have no elected officers, no charter. too membership dues. Everyone is welcome to participate and is treated equally. No one is given authority to speak or act for the entire Family. Individuals who have energy in different areas and fill leadership-type roles are called "focalizers", but they have no more authority than any other family member

The family governs itself through council meetings. Special councils are held at various times during the year, but councils can be held whenever and wherever the need arises. Any number of

individuals can sit at a council and all are encouraged to participate. An eagle feather is passed around the circle. The person holding the feather has the floor.

Decisions are made by consensus. Every person has the chance to be heard and input is weighed equally. Consensus means everyone must understand the issue and even though not everyone may completely agree with a decision, they can live with it. It is possible for a single person to block consensus and a decision is not made. A decision consented to at one council may be changed at another council.

Agency personnel were frustrated in dealings with Rainbow Family members because agreements made with one individual or group were not respected by others (because no one has authority to represent the group). Dialogues had to start from the beginning point with each encounter with family members, on many issues.

There were a few "focalizers" that personnel working on the incident could work with and achieve some success in getting things accomplished. Family members were usually very responsive to environmental concerns, but authontative/regulatory concerns were met with defiance.


Shanti Sena means peace keeper. Shanti Sena in the Rainbow Family are volunteers who act to maintain general order within the gathering. Anyone who wishes to be a Shanti Sena can be one. They typically use nonviolent methods like persuasion and peer pressure in dealing with undesirable behavior. Family members say they can deal with any problems within the gathering with their Shanti Sena.

Early on in the gathering, Shanti Sena accompanied Forest Service and other agency personnel into the gathering, to watch both what the Forest Service was doing and what Family members were saying and doing.

At a public meeting held by the Rainbow Family, the Family representative commented that Shanti Sena would be present in the local communities to help their people move through faster. This did occur on a few isolated occasions, with Shanti Sena being present at the local grocery store and at a convenience store located on the outskirts of Paonia.

Two alleged assaults were reported to the incident command. In one instance Shanti Sena apprehended the suspect, but he escaped before law enforcement officers arrived. The-suspect in the second assault was never caught by either the Shanti Sena or local law enforcement officials.

Shanti Sena were instrumental in defusing a volatile situation when two dead bodies were found in Bus Village, July 6 (see discussion under L. GATHERING INCIDENTS, below). Shanti Sena assisted with crowd control, allowing law enforcement officers to complete their investigation.


CALM is the Rainbow Family "tribe" entrusted with the medical care of family members. . At annual gatherings CALM sets up MASH-type facilities to treat participants ailments and injuries. C.'LLSI is staffed with volunteers, including doctors, nurses, Enlists, acupuncturists, herbalists and massage e therapists. CALM also oversees camp sanitation, including: water supply, kitchens, latrines and Vacate disposal.

Three CALM units were established at the 1992 gathering: one in Bus Village, one near Elk Park and one further up Cow Creek drainage. CALM units maintained communication with each other with CB radios.

(Sorry, a page was missing here. ksh)

six locations in and around Overland Reservoir were selected. Samples were tested for fecal coliform, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. Testing for fecal coliform and ammonia was done at the Delta City lab; nitrite and nitrate tests were run at the Delta County Health Department. Discrepancies between fecal coliform colony counts (which showed samples far exceeding minimum standards of 200/100 ml.) and results from the other three tests (which indicated samples far below minimum standards of 0.02 mg/1 unionized for ammonia, 0.050 mail for nitrite and 10.0 mg/1 for nitrate) indicated problems with the lab technique being used (more emphasis on visual count of colonies, less on microscopic verification J. Beginning June 30, a different lab technique was used (microscopic verification) to determine fecal coliform colony counts and split samples were tested at the Colorado Department of Health Western Branch Laboratory. Results from all labs from June 30 - July 30 were consistent: readings were far below minimum standards. The two control sites did show spikes in fecal coliform on July 8. Livestock were present in both these areas, and the spike occurred after moderate summer rains.

The DCHD provided the personnel to take and test the water samples. The FS paid for their time, testing mediums, sterile collection containers, and transportation costs.

There were logistical problems in getting the water samples to the labs, due both to distance and time required to complete the testing. On weekends, samples had to be flown to Grand Junction for analysis.

In addition to water quality sampling, the DCHD posted bright green signs at all stream crossings, in CALM and kitchen facilities asking Rainbow Family members to please not bathe, swim, wash clothes or utensils, use soap or detergents or eliminate body wastes in streams or lakes. These requests were generally respected, however some bathing and washing did occur in streams and Overland Reservoir.

Some foaming began to appear in several waterways around Overland Reservoir, during the gathering. There was concern expressed that the foaming may be due to phosphate contamination. It was determined that the foaming was due to natural organic matter in the water - NOT phosphates.

The results of the water quality monitoring show that the Rainbow gathering had essentially no negative impacts on water quality in and around Overland Reservoir.


The DCHD/CDH primary management objective was to minimize the impacts to local health care providers by keeping the Rainbow Family as healthy as possible. Because the vast majority of Family members were visitors to the area and likely not aware of local health concerns, the health department distributed information about:

- Ticks (Ticks were not found at Overland Reservoir but occur at lower altitudes. Many gathering participants hitch hiked or walked through these areas. Ticks transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. )

- Plague (Transmitted by fleas from small mammals, present at Overland Reservoir. )

- Altitude Sickness (Overland Reservoir/Elk Park is located at 10,000 feet in elevation. )

- Dehydration (Participants may avoid drinking water due to possible contamination.

Figure 1 Vicinity Map

In May, 1992, representatives of CALM sent a copy of their "Plan for Health and Sanitation for the Rainbow International Peace and Healing Gathering'' to the Colorado State Health Department. This plan outlined steps the family would take concerning development/protection of water sources, latrine use and maintenance, recycling, waste disposal, food sanitation and family medical care. This plan was generated as a result of previous court rulings requiring the Rainbow family to meet minimum health and sanitation standards at gatherings. CALM representatives followed up with visits to the local health department. hospital, ambulance service and clinics when they came into the area.

CALM misrepresented their actual facilities. Visits to CALMunits by health department officials and local hospital staff revealed that CALM was only equipped to provide first aid medical attention. CALM requested the hospital provide structures they could set up in, but these requests were denied. CALM eventually set up in old army tents and tarp covered pole structures. Many of the bandages they had were old surplus military issue. Other supplies were limited. No protocol was established to deal with emergency situations. CAL~SI also misrepresented the health care needs of gathering participants and how services rendered would be paid for.

To reduce the pressure on local health care providers, Delta County Memorial Hospital provided CALM with bandages, antibacterial ointment, rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Additionally, the Delta County Health Department distributed 11,000 prophylactics and information on aids and other communicable diseases to CAINE. The Forest Service prepared a Safety Plan which described the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency.

CALM was very receptive to any information concerning health and sanitation. Health department and Forest Service officials discussed any health and sanitation deficiencies found in the gathering with CAl~51, and CAINE enforced the correction of these deficiencies.

At the 1992 gathering, there appeared to be a rift between some CALMvolunteers, so contacts were made with each CALM.

Colorado Report/ Part 3