Kentucky Moonbows

Melissa Kossler Dutton

When I learned that one of the two places in the world where moonbows regularly appear was less than 300 miles from Columbus, I jumped at the chance to go.

A moonbow - a faint rainbow produced by the light of the moon - regularly appears over the waterfalls during the full moon at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Corbin, Ky.

The other spot for great moonbow viewing is over Victoria Falls in Africa.

We arrived at the park in the early evening. As dusk settled in, rather than get the kids into their pajamas, we put on sweatshirts and headed out to the falls. They loved the idea of staying up past their bedtime and going out after dark.

We drove to the falls because it was too dark to walk safely through the woods and there is no sidewalk along the road that leads from the lodge and cabins to the falls.

As we walked from the parking lot, we could hear the sound of the 22,000 gallons of water rushing over the falls. The night was a bit cloudy and I wondered how that would impact the viewing.

We arrived a good hour before the moon was set to rise. A crowd had gathered on the rocky platform that overlooks the falls but we easily found a spot to wait. It was a congenial group and people happily made room for our family. Some people had set up folding chairs. Others brought strollers.

I wished I would have thought to bring a blanket. We sat on the ground and played guessing games while we waited for the moon to make its way across the sky.

As the moon crept higher and higher, the crescent shape of the moonbow began to appear. The kids eagerly crept toward the edge of the viewing area to get a better look. They had never heard of a moonbow before we booked our trip and were eager to see it.

The shape was very apparent but it was difficult to see the different colors. Moonbows often appear white because our eyes are not designed to see color in the dark.

Still, it was spectacular to see. The full moon glowed in the sky. The mist from the falls hovered in the air. The crowd oohed and ahhed with appreciation.

We gazed at the natural wonder for a long time before we could convince the kids to head back to our cabin.

The next evening, after a day of hiking and horseback riding, we headed back to the falls. That time the colors of the moonbow were more visible but the shape was less discernible. We were still impressed.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

7351 Highway 90, Corbin, KY 40701

606-528-4121 or 800-325-0063

Getting there: The park is about 275 miles from Columbus. The drive will take about 4.5 hours.

Staying there: Rooms in the lodge range in price from $65 to $140 depending on day of the week and time of year. Cabin prices range from $90 to $260.