Arrow-right Camera

Picture stories

Rainbow Gathering

About 300 Rainbow Family gather in the Colville National Forest.

Related story: For Rainbow Family, forest gathering is foretaste of 2011 festival


Colin Mulvany

With cool nights in the Colville National Forest, many Rainbow Family followers sleep communally around campfires. About 300 Rainbows are attending this regional gathering, but a national gathering next year could attract thousands to a Washington state forest.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Newport District Ranger John Buehler, of the U.S. Forest Service, tries to convince Rainbow Family followers to sign a special-use permit for the gathering. The Forest Service says someone finally signed the document, but it would not say who.


“We are a holy nation and a royal priesthood,” Arelim Steiner told the circle. “I don’t sign permits.”

Arelim Steiner, Rainbow Family follower

Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Each evening in a large meadow, all six of the communal kitchens come together to share a meal with the gathering. While the food is free, it is expected that people volunteer time to help prepare and clean up after meals.


“We are the Rainbow nation, a nation without land. A city without walls. They cannot stop the drums, the heartbeat of the people.”

R.E. Wall, Rainbow Family follower

Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Freshly made pizzas are loaded into a 55-gallon drum oven at the Montana Mud Kitchen.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

In the Montana Mud kitchen, James helps maintain the cook fires. The kitchen is one of six communal campsites responsible for feeding the “brothers and sisters” attending the Rainbow gathering. Pizzas cooked in a 55-gallon drum oven are the signature dish of the Montana Mud kitchen.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Younger followers of the Rainbow Family gather in a meadow in the Colville National Forest. Many are wandering street kids that come from urban areas. They spend their days at the gathering socializing, bartering and smoking marijuana.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

U.S Forest Service rangers warn the Montana Mud Kitchen that high winds are expected by evening. The rangers strive to protect the forest and ensure the safety of visitors.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

At the Purple and Green kitchen, Dixie helps unload armloads of donated fresh corn for the camp’s evening meal.


“A new generation is bringing its own morality to the gatherings, and though their ways may not be in harmony with the old ways, this is a natural evolution. In recent years there have been many changes to the gatherings.”

Gaia, Rainbow Family follower

Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Marie Weber does her morning meditation on a slackline tied between two trees.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

Where consuming alcohol is frowned upon at Rainbow gatherings, Marijuana is openly used, shared or bartered.


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

At the Fat Kids campsite, Fry, who has been coming to Rainbow gatherings for eight years, practices juggling knives from the kitchen.


Colin Mulvany

Toreny, left, and Christina play a game of chess in the Montana Mud campsite. Younger children stay with their parents or caregivers at Kiddie Camp, away from the partying adults.


One of the Fat Kids asked why the media is “all interested in us when we are out here, but when we’re in town we’re not treated so well.”


Colin Mulvany - The Spokesman-Review

At the Fat Kids kitchen, Clem smokes a cigarette as he waits for the next meal to be prepared. Each if the six communal kitchens have groups of followers who gather around the cook fire to socialize, play music and smoke marijuana.

Recent Picture Stories