Lucky Chukar Ranch In The Bighorns Lives Up To Its Name After Spectacular Back-To-Back Rainbows — Including A Double

Rainbows are not more common in the Bighorn Mountains, Cowboy State Daily Meteorologist Don Day says, but they’re still a beautiful sight, especially with a more-generous-than-usual wildflower bloom in progress.

Renée Jean

May 26, 20236 min read

This splendid rainbow over a colorful field of wildflower in the Bighorns inspired Victoria Haun of the Lucky Chukar Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains.
This splendid rainbow over a colorful field of wildflower in the Bighorns inspired Victoria Haun of the Lucky Chukar Ranch in the Bighorn Mountains. (Photo Courtesy Victoria Haun)

Victoria Haun was out in the yard working with her dogs when a sudden rain hit the Bighorn Mountains where her ranch, the Lucky Chukar, is located.

That drove everyone inside to wait out the storm. It was just a momentary frustration. The rain ended quickly, and then there was a nice surprise.

Not one, but two rainbows arcing across the sky, lording it out over a carpet of wildflowers in bloom.

Haun knew just what to do — snap pictures of it immediately with her smartphone, then post them to Facebook.

For Haun it was just another beautiful day in the Bighorns, where she and her husband are living the dream.

“This time of year, we’re having quite the super bloom of wildflowers,” Haun told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s because of all the moisture that we got this winter. So, driving by right now, we have awesome rue and lupin and all sorts of different wildflowers. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

Their Bighorn Field Of Dreams

The rainbow and the wildflowers are all part of a big field of dreams Haun and her husband have for their little slice of heaven in the Bighorns. They’re raising game birds on a 90-acre ranch just outside of Story. 

Birding has long been a hobby for the two.

“We were going pretty much all over the state and all over South Dakota,” she said. “Then we got to thinking, why don’t we just start our own thing here? Because there’s not really anybody in our area that does it.”

Hunting dogs, Haun noted, are often frustrated starting out when they don’t find any birds. That can make training them frustrating for dog and owner alike. She and her husband are going to focus on quail and chukar.

“It’s pretty exhausting on especially a younger dog when you take them out and you go hunting and you may or may not find anything,” she said. “Here, you’ll be able to get a more natural experience where it still feels like you’re going out on public land, but your dog is almost guaranteed to get a reward, versus if you go out on state land, you may not find anything.

“And if you do that a few times in a row, your dog’s going to be like what the heck are we out here for?”

Haun’s ranch is close to several hundred acres of state land that also have all kinds of other native birds, ranging from pheasant and partridges to grouse.

There’s lots of campground space in and around Story, and the ranch will offer some space for that as well. 

A double rainbow over the Bighorns.
A double rainbow over the Bighorns. (Photo Courtesy Victoria Haun)

Double Days Of Rainbows Not Uncommon

The double rainbow Haun posted to Facebook on Thursday was actually the second day in a row she’d seen rainbows over the Bighorns. The first was a single rainbow over a field of balsamroot, which looks a lot like sunflowers. 

“This year’s wildflower bloom is definitely greater in magnitude than usual,” she told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s the amount of snow this winter and then the excessively wet spring we’ve had.”

Back-to-back rainbows are not necessarily more common in the Bighorns than anywhere else, said Cowboy State Daily meteorologist Don Day.

“We are treated in some parts of the country to a fair amount of rainbows,” he said. “And one reason for that is when we get into this time of year, late spring and early summer, with these thunderstorms, they tend to happen later in the afternoon and evenings. And the one thing you need for a really good rainbow display is a somewhat low sun angle.”

Double Rainbows Not Rare, But Are Fun

Double rainbows, while not seen as often as single rainbows, are actually much more common than most people realize.

The thing is, double rainbows are happening any time there’s a rainbow, they just aren’t always strong enough to be seen with the naked eye.

It’s all part of how rainbows are made. Light strikes a water droplet with multiple wavelengths of light or energy levels. Each wavelength will travel through the water droplet slightly differently because of that difference in energy. That causes a color separation, and it’s the same separation every time. 

Longest, red, is first at 650 nanometers. Followed by orange, yellow, green, blue on down to violet, the shortest in the visible spectrum, at 400 nanometers.

The refraction even continues on down to ultraviolet light, which we cannot see. 

The double rainbow, meanwhile, is the reflection of the refracted light. That is why its colors are the exact opposite. It’s a mirror image.

Finding The Rainbows End

Rainbows are a matter of perspective, too. The viewer will only see light that’s hitting raindrops at a 42-degree angle from his or her vantage point.

This means no two viewers see the same rainbow. And it’s another reason why, no matter how hard a person tried, they could never reach the end of a rainbow. 

It’s also why folks in an airplane see an entirely different rainbow, Day told Cowboy State Daily. 

“If you were to see a rainbow from the air, it’s actually like a big circle,” he said. “Because what we see on the ground is where the circle intersects the ground.”

For Haun, though, the rainbows are all just part of living the dream in the Bighorn mountains. 

“We named our ranch Lucky Chukar because we’re pretty lucky to be able to live in a place as beautiful as we do, and being able to do what we love,” she said. “Our main goal here will be to keep things as natural as possible. It’s as close to the real deal as you can get.”

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter