Posted: Jul 5, 2013 4:09 PM by MTN News
Updated: Jul 5, 2013 4:09 PM
The Rainbow Family gathering in southwest Montana is, for this week, one of the largest communities in the Treasure State.
The U.S. Forest Service estimates that about 9,700 people have congregated at the site located 10 miles southwest of Jackson in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest.
That figure makes the gathering - at least temporarily - the 8th-largest community in Montana, roughly on a par with the population of Havre.
The agency says that the nearly 2,000 vehicles in the area are also affecting roads and kicking up dust.
The number of pedestrians has also greatly increased, so officials are urging patience by drivers.
Beaverhead County officials say the gathering has already put a strain on some services, including law enforcement and healthcare facilities.
All the Rainbow members remained silent for midnight until noon on Thursday as part of their meditation on world peace.
They broke their silence with a celebration and a communal meal.
The Rainbow gathering is scheduled to last through Sunday.