DENVER — This year, the Rainbow Family annual gathering is happening in Colorado, in a remote area of the Routt National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service says about 1,000 people have assembled in the area already, eight days before the official start.

Members of the Rainbow Family told Denver7 they expect anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 people to attend the gathering.

“Things are looking really good,” said James Parisho, who’s been to Rainbow Family gatherings since 2011.

The event typically draws thousands to a national forest, where “interests and energy are put toward world peace,” Parisho said.

He’s no stranger to the painted buses and vans, campsites, or the pushback from community members that happens every year. Pushback like that of Gaspar Perricone, a board member of Keep Routt Wild.

“The worry that we face, you know, is larger than just a group of people coming into our community,” said Perricone. “This event historically has had pretty significant impact on the landscape where they have gathered, and it poses a serious risk to the environment, wildlife and the forest itself.”

It’s why both Perricone and others, like Julie Mayer, have asked the Rainbow Family to get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Rainbow Family members have refused that request.

“There’s people that are not going to like us, and they’re not going to be welcoming to us. That’s going to happen anywhere. So it’s just something that we accept as being part of the reality of us gathering the way that we do,” said Parisho. “It’s gonna be great.”

With just days until the gathering’s official start, U.S. Forest Service rangers are on-site helping in any way they can.

“We’re addressing public health and safety risks and making sure we minimize the environmental impact that’s happening out there on the landscape,” said Hilary Markin with the U.S. Forest Service.

Those working to protect the area and those taking part in the gathering all hope for the best outcome, which is leaving the site just as they found it.

The 2022 gathering runs July 1 through July 7.

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