Gaze in awe at Kentucky’s own Niagara of the South, where a stunning cascade creates a unique natural phenomenon on brightly moonlit nights.
Cumberland Falls is the star attraction and an unforgettable sight in the state park of the same name. While the 125-foot (38-meter) wide curtain of water is a mesmerizing display day or night, the waterfall’s renown comes from the intriguing phenomenon that occurs under the light of the moon. Visit on a clear night of the full moon to see the falls’ mystical “moonbow.”
Make your way along the short path to the Cumberland Falls viewpoint. From this angle, you’ll see the clear waters of the Cumberland River leaping 68 feet (20.7 meters) into a rocky gorge framed by pretty pines. Visit the falls on a bright moonlit night to experience a unique natural phenomenon. Cumberland Falls’ particular aspect in the western hemisphere means that the light from the moon refracts in the clouds of mist that arise from the cascade. You’ll be able to see a faint rainbow-like phenomenon arching across the gorge. This mystical vision only occurs in a few locations in the world. If you have a tripod and a camera with very slow shutter settings, you might be able to capture the lunar rainbow in a photograph.
Stay in the historic lodge located nearby or pitch a tent in the scenic campgrounds. There are also cabins available for rent. Stay the night in Cumberland State Park and wake up to the tranquil forest and morning birdsong. The lodge has a restaurant with an observation deck for admiring the river.
Explore the network of trails that wind around the park. Choose from densely wooded trails, riverside meadows and historic logging roads. Follow the Laurel and Cumberland rivers and see a myriad of wildflowers in spring. The popular Cumberland Falls Trail begins at the information display in front of the DuPont Lodge and affords fantastic views of the river and Gatliff Bridge.
Cumberland Falls are located a short distance south of Corbin in southern Kentucky. The waterfall has an on-site parking lot and is free to visit at any time of the year. A calendar of the best times to view Cumberland Falls is available on the state park’s website.