By Logan Smith
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ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. (KCNC) – The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and the United States Department of Agriculture announced the closure of California Park effective 8 a.m. Saturday through July 15.
The closure coincides with the arrival of thousands of Rainbow Gathering attendees. The festival is held this year in Adams Park, just north of California Park.
Rainbow Gathering 2022 is scheduled for July 1 through July 7.
“The Forest Order was established for the protection of natural resources because of the high likelihood of excessive public use before and during the July 4 holiday,” the USDA said in an online advisory posted Friday. The agency cited the area’s biological diversity and geological, historical and paleontological values when issuing the protective order.
“Closing parts of the forest is not something we take lightly,” Forest Service Supervisor Russ Bacon said in the notice. “In this case though, it’s the right thing to do.”
Routt County Road 80, the main road for Rainbow Gathering access to Adams Park, will remain open through California Park. Both parks are approximately 35 miles north-northeast of Hayden.
A spokesperson for the event estimated that between 5,000 and 10,000 people will migrate from across the country to the annual Gathering of the Tribes event this year. Attendees are greeted with signs and shouts of “Welcome home!” upon their arrival.
The event culminates on July 4 with a morning of silent meditation for peace.
The first Rainbow Gathering was held in Colorado in 1972 at Strawberry Lake, a small body of water in the Arapahoe National Forest near the southeast end of Lake Granby.
This year’s event marks the band’s 50th anniversary.
“We’re here to honor the land, not try to burn it down,” Vermont participant Lia told Steamboat Radio during a visit late last week. “A lot of wonderful humans are there, who put a lot of energy into each side.”
The Rainbow Gathering, a free event for the celebration of love and community, was most recently held in Colorado in 2006. This one was in Routt County, like this year’s. Officials wrote hundreds of tickets for drug offenses and illegal camping at the event.
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