When it comes to waterfalls, I find it very hard to pass up the chance to see one if it's somewhere close.
That's especially true when I am traveling through Southeast Kentucky, which is home to one of the most amazing waterfalls anywhere in the Southeast.
Cumberland Falls has been a popular tourist attraction since the early 1900's. Its size and the sheer volume of water pouring over it earned the falls the nickname "Niagara of the South." Today, thousands of people a day come to relish in the majesty of this amazing natural wonder.
From the parking lot you can see the mist rising up in the distance. Although the water is relatively calm here, it is easy to see that something dramatic is about to happen just a few hundred yards away. Follow the trail past the gift shop and head over to the overlook at the top of the falls where you can sometimes feel the mist rising from the floor of the gorge and the volume of the rushing water can drown out the sounds around you.
Located just west of I-75 near Corbin, KY, Cumberland Falls State Park is one of the crowning jewels of the Kentucky State Park system, which boasts being the "Nation's Finest." The falls is more than a hundred feet wide and 70 feet high with sheer rock walls on one side that are even higher.
More than just a waterfall
While the falls are the main draw at the park, this is a full service resort perfect for a weekend getaway. Overnight accommodations include a lodge and cottages as well as a campground. There is also a restaurant providing views of the Cumberland River. For the more adventurous folks, there are guided rafting trips available and 17 miles of hiking trails.
Perhaps, the most unique feature of Cumberland Falls is the "moonbow." While exact definitions of what that is vary, the "moonbow" appears when there is a full moon and weather conditions are right. (I have been to see it only once and it was well worth the three hours to get there and back from Knoxville). According to the park (and many other sources) the waterfall created "moonbow" is the only one of its kind in North America and most likely only one of two in the entire world. The park at one time was even home to the "Moonbow" hotel, built ride beside the waterfall.
Other things to see and do
While you are in the area, there are many other things to check out. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is about 30 minutes west. It is a park filled with natural arches, waterfalls, and a lot of history. In nearby Corbin, you can eat at the original KFC and learn a little about the restaurant chain's history. Pine Mountain State Park, General Burnside State Park and the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park are also within an hour's drive of Cumberland Falls State Park.