Friday, January 1, 2010

Catch a Moonbow - Cumberland Falls, KY

During an April in early 1990's we spent a week in Kentucky.  Typically one visits thoroughbred farms, and all sorts of horse related locations like racetracks, and museums.  We did this as well, but what stands out for me was the phenomenon of the moonbow.

At Cumberland Falls near the Tennessee border is the only location in the Western hemisphere where this occurs regularly.  During a full moon, a white bow can be viewed in the spray of the falls at night.

We stayed in a cabin which is part of the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.  The Kentucky Park system is one of the best in the US, and the cabins were comfortable, clean and more than one might expect from a State run program.

Dogwood forest surrounded the area, and at this time in April the flowers were falling from the trees, and spinning like fairies to the forest ground.

Once the sun went down, and darkness crept in upon us, we made our way down to the falls.  Scores of visitors were there to experience the moonbow, and stood at top of the falls, or along the railing of the steps which made their way down to the river side at the foot of the falls.  During that first visit no moonbow was visible, and it was obvious that the moon was not positioned correctly to catch the mist at the foot of the falls.

Going back to the cabin we decided to visit later after the moon rose higher in the night sky.  An hour later we returned.  The crowds had thinned a little, but the moonbow was still illusive, and moon and the mist had yet to meet.

I repeated this process of going back to the cabin, and returning to the falls to capture the moonbow 3 more times.  By the last visit the others had given up, and I made the trek to the falls alone.  Not being one for giving up easily on opportunities for rare phenomenon I returned to the falls at 2:30am.  The progressively thinning crowds had now diminished to one other man and myself.

At 2:30 in the morning, there it was - a band of white light like a night time albino rainbow captured in the mist of Cumberland Falls.

For you my friends from the UK, who are looking to experience some of America's coolest things look for the pot at the end of the moonbow at Cumberland Falls you can catch flights to Orlando Florida.  If a rainbow has a pot of gold at the end of it maybe the moonbow has diamonds.  It certainly is high on my list of romantic scenes to discover.  Just be sure to bring someone who can stay awake through the night, or you might be left at the falls with a stranger.

This may be on my list of a thousand things to do, but it is one of the things I have covered, and can scratch off my list of a thousand as accomplished.


  1. I have just seen a Moonbow in Wales in the valley
    near Aberdovey so we have them in the U K too.

  2. No way! How cool. Moonbow in aberdovey - sweet!