CORBIN -- As the moon becomes full, the traffic is likely to be a little heavier on the roadways in Whitley County, specifically the road the locals call "Falls Highway," as community members and tourists alike head toward Highway 90 to their destination.
It's moonbow time at the Cumberland Falls State Park, a once a month chance for park guests of all ages to get to see a rainbow in the night sky -- if the weather is just right. It's a phenomenon not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere and it attracts locals and tourists each month as the full moon appears.
The week of the moonbow there are usually a ton of activities and events going on throughout Whitley County to accompany the phenomenon and allow tourists to enjoy a full day of adventure rather than just a night of moonbow viewing.
"Visitors can experience the Farmers' Market, Moonbow Nights, or take a trolley into downtown for dinner and drinks. While they are downtown, tourists can check out Sanders Park and the recently restored L&N 2132, or have a coffee and/or snack in the new parklet on Monroe Street," said Corbin Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel. "Tourists can also try a beverage or dish aptly named for the moonbow as some of our restaurants will incorporate the moonbow name into drinks and dishes."
Local officials and outdoor enthusiasts agree that Corbin is extremely blessed to have the Cumberland Falls State Park in their backyard.
Aptly named "The Niagara of the South," the park attracts over one million visitors per year, which means one million people are getting off at Corbin's I-75 exit annually, said Kriebel.
"This gives us an opportunity to capture the interest of tourists to come into the city and shop, dine or enjoy an attraction," said Kriebel. "The park showcases the beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest, and offers a natural wonder of the world."
As you drive to the park, there are certain landscapes that almost mimic a rainforest spirit as the trees canopy around the roadway and the music of the birds overpower any tune playing from a car radio.
Corbin is fortunate to have the park because it offers such a wide array of outdoor adventure activities. These include everything from hiking, horseback riding, white water rafting, kayaking and tubing, just to name a few.
The park is one of the reasons we are able to advertise ourselves as being located in the outdoor adventure mecca of Kentucky, said Kriebel.
Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White, Jr. agreed.
"Cumberland Falls is one of our greatest natural resources in Whitley County," said White. "It is also one of our major tourist attractions. Tourism is a quickly growing industry in Whitley County and surrounding Cumberland Falls. It is not your typical type of tourism though, it is more what I would call, adventure tourism."
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The DuPont Lodge is another highlight of Cumberland Falls.
"The lodge is a premier place to have a wedding or a meeting and we get thousands of people from out of town who end up in Corbin due to weddings and meetings," added Kriebel.
"The largest source of revenue for our local tourism efforts is the lodge and campgrounds at Cumberland Falls," she said. "We like to take that funding and re-invest into other tourism related events that give people more things to do when they visit our area."
Kriebel gets a lot of positive feedback from tourists who visit the park.
"They love the fact that the viewing platform is accessible to all ages and physical ability levels," said Kriebel. "We get positive feedback regarding the lodge and the cottages/cabins and the natural setting of the park, and we always hear about how good the food is at the lodge. We also get a ton of great feedback about the hiking trails at the park. Most of the time when I am out of town and mention the park, people tell me that they got married there."
Residents visit the falls for evening outings or simply to get their exercise in, however the park is quite an attraction to travelers for the moonbow alone.
"Cumberland Falls State Park one of the top two most requested attractions in the city," noted Kriebel. "We have people stop in the Tourism Welcome Center who are looking for more things to do and they tell us they are in town for the moonbow."
White said people come from all over the world to visit and see the moonbow.
"My wife and I recently took our boys down to see the moonbow, it was incredible to see how many people were there," said White.
Several other events in Whitley County are centered around the moonbow at Cumberland Falls.
Kriebel noted events such as Moonbow Nights and Moonbow Eggfest are named after the Moonbow.
Most recently Kriebel said the Corbin trolley has started taking people from Sheltowee Trace to downtown Corbin for dinner and drinks and then back to the park for the moonbow, thereby providing them an entire experience of the area.
Ultimately Kriebel would like guests to make a long weekend out of the moonbow experience.
"Guests can enjoy an entire day of adventure while visiting Cumberland Falls State Park," she said. "Some of the activities available include horseback riding and fishing. Guests can also enjoy a day full of hiking as the park boasts more than 25 miles of scenic hiking trails for every skill level. The swimming pool provides an opportunity for a cool respite from the hot summer sun. On the nature end of things, the park is a prime location for those who enjoy wildlife viewing. Gem mining is a very popular activity at the park, especially for kids. Cumberland Falls State Park offers a wide array of awesome programs for families. Everything from wildflower walks to overnight camp out at the Fire Tower as well as fly fishing. On the adventure side of things, Sheltowee Trace Adventure Resort offers white water rafting, kayaking, tubing, canoeing, a guided ride up to the actual Falls itself and stand up paddle boarding."
White added that all the activities are family friendly and many are centered around the natural beauty of Cumberland Falls.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park offers a list of peak viewing times for the moonbow on its website, parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/cumberland-falls/.