The Rainbow Fades As Gathering Dwindles To 6,000
By OutdoorAly

Posted: July 6, 2013

We previously reported on the 2013 National Rainbow Family of Living Light gathering in Montana, here is an update. The gathering has reached its last day of celebration, and the camp they set up in Beaverhead-Deerlodge national forest has dropped from 10,000 to 6,000 people. Many people from the gathering like to hang out in the area after the celebration, so be aware this area of forest may be occupied well into next week. Also roads exiting the area will have increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Daily updates can be found at

The gathering had significantly fewer people attend than a previous celebration in the same location in 2000. The US Forest service is providing daily updates and put together this chart, they estimated only around 10,000 people attended this year.


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Volunteers from the Gathering will stay behind to clean up and rehabilitate the site with oversight by the U.S. Forest Service. Our Forest Service has done an excellent job of working to keep people informed and managing such a large group! Here is their frequently asked questions from USFS website:

2013 National Rainbow Family Gathering National Incident Management Team

National Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. What is the Rainbow Family of Living Light?

    The Rainbow Family describes themselves as a loose-knit group of people without leadership or organization who gather on National Forests to discuss political and environmental issues, pray for world peace, and celebrate life.

  2. Who can be a Rainbow?

    Anyone can become a Rainbow Family member. Members come from all walks of life and multicultural backgrounds.

  3. What is the National Gathering?

    The Rainbow Family holds a national gathering once a year. Since 1972, the event has taken place on a different national forest during the Fourth of July holiday. The number of participants fluctuates from year to year and generally falls within 10,000-20,000 people.

  4. How does the Rainbow Family decide where to gather?

    At the end of each annual gathering, members form a “vision council” to discuss which state to hold the next year’s national gathering. The actual site location is not determined until the following spring.

  5. How and when does the Rainbow Family select a specific site?

    Small groups of Family members set out to scout for acceptable gathering locations as weather permits in the early spring. They then come together for their annual “Spring Council” in mid-June to discuss site options and make their decision. The Rainbow Family announces the chosen site for the national gathering around the third week of June. This is usually when the Forest Service learns of the site selection.

  6. When does the National Gathering begin?

    The National Gathering begins with the announcement of the chosen site. Once the site is determined, the Rainbow Family will utilize Internet resources and informational recordings to inform Family members of the chosen location with directions on how to get there. Rainbow Family members begin arriving at the chosen location to set up the Gathering’s camp area within a day or so after the announcement.

  7. When does the gathering end?

    The event peaks on the Fourth of July with a significant reduction in attendance occurring shortly thereafter. However, a group of Rainbow Family volunteers remains in the area to clean up and rehabilitate the site. There may be other “stragglers” as well who remain in the area for a couple weeks.

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