Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Williamsburg, Kentucky

The Cumberland Falls

Moonbows over Kentucky. 

Cumberland Falls is a set of waterfalls on the Cumberland River. It is located near Corbin on the border of the McCreary and Whitely counties. Sometimes referred to as the Niagara of the South, these waterfalls are the centerpiece of the Cumberland Falls Sate Resort Park. On average, the falls are just under 70 feet high, over 100 feet wide, and carry a water flow of almost 4,000 cubic feet per second.

There is another feature of the Cumberland Falls that make them interesting. On a clear night with a full moon above the falls one can see what is known as a “moonbow.” A moonbow is a lunar rainbow, which is almost exactly like a regular rainbow except that they occur at night under the auspices of the moon, not the sun.

Moonbows are incredibly rare and there are only a few places in the world where they consistently appear. To the human eye, a moonbow often appears simply white because humans have a hard time seeing the color spectrum due to the relatively small amount of light they use. However, when using a long exposure camera shot, a moonbow’s distinct colors will almost certainly appear.

Know Before You Go

Located in the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in the Daniel Boone National Forrest.