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Cumberland Falls in Kentucky

One of the few sites in the Western Hemisphere where one can witness a moonbow

Best time: all year round (during full moon phases)

Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls
Cumberland Falls
A moonbow at Cumberland Falls
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Although this waterfall is quite impressive by day, its main attraction is revealed only at night as it is the only site in Western Hemisphere where moonbows happen regularly. Cumberland Falls is often called the Little Niagara. With a height of 68 ft (21 m) and a width of 125 ft (38 m), Cumberland Falls is the second-largest waterfall east of the Rockies. Located in southeastern Kentucky, the waterfall is set on the Cumberland River, surrounded by Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.

When to observe a moonbow over Cumberland Falls

A moonbow is an unusual natural phenomenon that happens when the light of the moon is reflected off droplets of water. Moonbows are generally harder to see than rainbows. They often appear as faint white arches and could be better seen on camera than by the human eye. It's only possible to see a moonbow near a large waterfall. They are often spotted in Hawaii as well as in Africa. Cumberland Falls is one of the best places to observe this phenomenon since moonbows happen there on a regular basis, with peak conditions during full moon phases (see the schedule by the link in the External Resources below). For higher chances to see a moonbow, a number of conditions have to be met. The moon has to be full, for it shines the brightest. The weather must be cloudless, and the skies dark and clear. The last couple of hours before the sunrise is the best time to see moonbows.

Things to do at Cumberland Falls

Cumberland Falls Park Resort offers lots of activities in the warmer time of the year. Birdwatchers can encounter many species of wood-warblers and woodpeckers. Carolina chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, Carolina Wren, and northern cardinal are also seen frequently. If you are an avid angler, you can enjoy fishing at the Cumberland River that boasts bountiful numbers of trophy brown trout and rainbow trout. Bass, catfish, and panfish are abundant in the river. Fishing in the Cumberland River requires a license. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park also offers 17 mi (27 km) of hiking trails. Besides, you can engage in lots of activities in the nearby Daniel Boone National Forest: horseback riding, a swimming pool, and rafting are available from Memorial Day Weekend till Labor Day.

Where to stay at Cumberland Falls

Historic DuPont Lodge located in the middle of the park is the best option. One of the most beautiful state park lodges in the US features a large observation deck over the Cumberland River, stone fireplaces, and a wood-paneled interior. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park also has 50 campsites with electricity and water. Campers can shower and use restrooms at the park. Camping is available from mid-March to October.

Cumberland Falls is a perfect weekend getaway for nature enthusiasts, which is often overlooked because of its remote location. However, it's quite remarkable being the largest waterfall by volume in the Eastern United States after Niagara Falls, and its fascinating moonbows are definitely worth a visit.

Practical info

When is the best time to view moonbows at Cumberland Falls?

Moonbows can be seen at Cumberland Falls during a full moon phase when the weather is cloudless, the sky is dark and clear, and the last couple of hours before sunrise show the best conditions. The visibility of moonbows may vary on camera and human eye. Show more

Where is Cumberland Falls located and what is nearby?

Cumberland Falls is in the southeastern area of Kentucky near the Cumberland River. 17 miles of hiking trails, fishing, and birdwatching are available within the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Daniel Boone National Forest, which is nearby, offers activities such as horseback riding, swimming pool, and rafting during Memorial Day Weekend till Labor Day. Louisville or Tennessee's Nashville or Chattanooga are perfect for bluegrass and bourbon lovers. Show more

What kinds of fish can be caught in the Cumberland River near Cumberland Falls?

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park's Cumberland River contains many fish species, including brown trout and rainbow trout, bass, catfish, and panfish. The park requires a fishing license for fishing in the Cumberland river. Visitors who are not fond of fishing can experience the DuPont Lodge's rich taste of seasonal menus with locally sourced ingredients. Show more

What are some popular activities at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park?

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is a place that caters to the interests of all visitors, from bird watching to hiking, fishing, camping, swimming, horseback riding, and water sports in nearby Daniel Boone National Forest. Family-friendly picnic shelters, playgrounds, and laundry facilities are accessible, and the park enriches visitors with the stories and artifacts of its Native American and Civil War history. Show more

Where can visitors stay at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park?

DuPont Lodge is the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park's go-to location for visitors seeking accommodation during their stay. The lodge boasts an observation deck that overlooks the Cumberland River, as well as a stone fireplace and a wood-panelled interior. There are also 50 campsites with electrical and water hookups available from March to October, as well as a variety of amenities such as laundry services and playgrounds for families with children who are staying in the park. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen