Toroweap, Grand Canyon, Arizona

For many photographers, taking a picture of the elusive double rainbow is a rare and unexpected treat. Not only do you have to be at the right place at the right time, you need to have your camera on hand so that you don't miss nature's colorful show. As photographer Craig Bill stated about his photo, above, "By the time we had almost seen the first canyon edge, ambient storm clouds started to shed rain. If you look closely, you can see the first drops of rain on the foreground rocks. Afraid of equipment damage, I advised that we start back toward camp before nature taught us a lesson. Not ten steps into the retreat, my safari companion yelled out, 'Look! a double rainbow!' I scrambled to get my camera together. I climbed up a rock and started shooting as many exposures as possible before the elusive event faded. That was the brightest rainbow I have ever seen - and to see it arching over Toroweap, Grand Canyon is one of the luckiest and most exciting experiences I have had with photography!"

In a double rainbow, two rainbows are seen in the sky at the same time. The second arc, outside the primary arc, has the order of colors reversed. That means instead of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, the outer edge starts with violet followed by indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this natural phenomenon occurs when a part of a ray of sunlight that enters inside a raindrop is reflected for a second time in the droplet before exiting it. Essentially, you're looking at a second reflection. The outer edge is fainter than the primary because more light escapes from two reflections compared to one and because the rainbow itself is spread over a larger area of the sky.

Even more rare than the double rainbow is the twinned rainbow, or two rainbow arcs split from a single base. In this case, the colors don't reverse, they appear in the same order as the primary one.

Now, let's take a look at 21 glorious photos of double rainbows spotted all around the world.


White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Photo: Rikk Flohr


Skogafoss, Iceland

Photo: Lauren Malcampo


Alberta, Canada

Photo: Vincent Piotrowski


North Norwegian Mountains, Norway

Photo: Dag Ole Nordhaug


Blà Bheinn, Skye, Scotland

Photo: Mark Mullen


Chicago, Illinois

Photo: Chris Allen


Zhrebchevo Lake, Bulgaria

Photo: Evgeni Dinev


Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France

Photo: Matthieu Rivrin


Fanad Head, Ireland

Photo: Stephen Emerson


Victoria Falls, Africa

Photo: Stacy of Epic Change


San Francisco Bay Bridge, California

Photo: Conrad Tan


Near St. Merryn, Padstow, England

Photo: Andrew Turner


Murthly, Scotland

Photo: Angus Clyne


Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Photo: Raymond Larose


Mount Alyeska, Alaska

Photo: Josh Martinez


Central Park, New York

Photo: Inga Sarda-Sorensen


Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Photo: Marco Antonini


Lake Superior, Michigan

Photo: Steve Perry


Excelsior Farm, Namib Rand, Namibia

Photo: Mark Dumbleton


Cerro Torre, Argentina

Photo: OaKy Isra

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  • If only I was there to witness the one in Central Park.

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