Looking for a fun, unique, and affordable spot for a family vacation? The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is the perfect place to visit.
The diamond mine in Arkansas is a unique tourist attraction because it was once an active volcano with lava flows that brought diamonds to the surface. So, if you’re a rockhound, make plans to visit soon and see what all the fuss is about. You never know what you might find while exploring the area.
What is Crater of Diamonds State Park?
About an hour south of Hot Springs National Park lies Crater of Diamonds State Park, famous for its 37.5-acre diamond-bearing plowed field – one of the 8th largest diamond mines in the world. Diamonds and gemstones occur naturally here due to a volcanic eruption that brought the diamonds to the Earth’s surface, making them easily accessible.
Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only publicly open diamond mine where diamonds found may be kept. More than 33,000 diamonds have been found at this Arkansas diamond mine since becoming a state park in 1972. The diamond-rich soil of Pike County is why Arkansas is called the ‘Diamond State.’
Things to Do
Along with a mining field where visitors can dig for diamonds, the park offers a Diamond Discovery Center with geology and mineralogy exhibits. Here, visitors can learn more about Arkansas’ diamond industry and the history of diamond discoveries in the surrounding area.
In addition, there is an aquatic playground at the park called Diamond Springs Water Park, with picnic areas perfect for cooling off in the summer.
Crater of Diamonds offers a campground and a few short hiking trails too.
Continue reading to find out how to mine for diamonds. Who knows? You might just find your own diamond in a volcanic crater!
Tips on Digging for Diamonds
These tips below will help beginner diamond miners have a memorable experience.
Dress for Playing in the Dirt
First, dress appropriately. The park can be hot and dusty, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.
It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen, a hat, gloves, snacks, and water. Unfortunately, there is very little shade.
Rent Mining Equipment
When arriving at Crater of Diamonds, follow the signs and head to the visitor center, located at the entrance to the diamond mining field. After paying to enter, head along the sidewalk to the lower level of the visitor center, where you can rent mining equipment. Novice prospectors can rent a shovel, bucket, wagon, and mining screen for the day.
Bring Mining Equipment
You don’t have to rent – you can also bring your mining tools from home.
Note: battery-operated or motor equipment is not allowed. Only hand tools are permitted. Once you have your equipment, get ready to dig for diamonds and precious gems and explore like an old-fashioned prospector!
How to Mine for Diamonds
There are three main ways to mine: walking the surface, surface sifting, and wet sifting. Each technique is explained below in more detail.
1. Walking the Surface Area
You don’t have to bring fancy tools to mine for diamonds. Many people simply walk around the fields and look for shiny objects eroded on the surface. Many visitors have found a rough diamond this way, and the locals swear by it! Keep your eyes peeled for sparkles from the ground since diamonds glimmer from all directions due to their metallic luster.
2. Surface Sifting
Surface sifting entails excavating dirt with hand tools and dry sifting the dirt through screens while watching for diamonds to turn up. Dirt and mud will not stick to diamonds, and the diamond crystals will be clean and naturally exposed. Diamonds can be yellow, brown, or white.
3. Wet Sifting
This method of diamond mining involves water and can get a little muddy. There are two wet sifting stations inside the mining field. To wet sift, miners dig up dirt, haul it in buckets to the wet sifting stations, then pour small amounts of dirt into the rented mining screen to sift out larger and smaller rocks, gravel, and dirt. Keep your eyes peeled for small objects that sparkle and crystals that appear smooth and round.
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How to Know if You Found a Diamond?
Save all potential mined diamonds and gemstones in a small paper bag provided by the park. Take findings to the on-site gemologist to be inspected. Visitors can find the gemologist at the Diamond Discovery Center, where the rental equipment is.
Even if you don’t find a diamond, the gemologist will teach miners about the rocks, gems, and minerals found, which is a great experience. If you don’t see a diamond, you can still find amethyst, garnet, jasper, quartz, or semi-precious stones.
Where is Crater of Diamonds State Park?
The park is in Murfreesboro in west-central Arkansas, located in the Ouachita Mountains. The Ouachita and Ozark Mountains are the most prominent mountain ranges between the Rockies and Appalachians and are breathtaking.
The Ouachitas are home to other incredible parks in Arkansas, such as Mount Magazine State Park, home to the tallest mountain in the state.
The diamond park is roughly two hours away from Little Rock, the state capital, and Pinnacle Mountain State Park.
Crater of Diamonds State Park Camping
The Diamond Mine Campground offers an unforgettable experience for campers. The campground has 47 class AAA campsites (with water/sewer/electric hookups) for RVs or walk-in tent sites close to the diamond search area. Each campsite is beautiful, clean, and nestled under the trees with plenty of shade. There is a bathhouse with hot water, showers, and flushing toilets.
A short, paved hiking trail leads campers to the Little Missouri River nearby. This campground is perfect because it is within walking distance of the excavation area. So, if you’re looking for a unique outdoor adventure, be sure to stay at the Crater of Diamonds Campground.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Crater of Diamonds is after the fields are plowed or after a rainstorm. The plow roughs up the dirt, potentially exposing diamonds beneath the surface.
After it rains, a similar thing happens, and larger gems are more likely to come to the surface.
There is no set plowing schedule, but the field is plowed periodically.
Are the Diamonds Worth Anything?
You might be wondering if there is a catch at this point. There is not!
Anything miners find at the diamond mine is theirs to keep (except vegetation and wildlife). So, diamonds, rocks, minerals, historical artifacts, treasures – it’s all finders keepers!
Visitors are constantly finding diamonds. The biggest diamond ever found in the rough weighed 40.23 carats and was named “Uncle Sam.” Uncle Sam is a white diamond and is the largest diamond ever unearthed in the USA.
A local Arkansas woman discovered the famous uncut Esperanza diamond in 2015. The Esperanza was the largest found since 2015, weighing over eight ounces uncut.
In addition, there have been many quality diamonds found at the park weighing a carat. One such find, the Strawn-Wagner Diamond, is a flawless triple zero diamond listed by the American Gem Society and is worth a lot of money.
Other Rocks and Minerals
Diggers should keep their eyes peeled for precious stones as well as quartz-crystal and other semi-precious stones.
Vibrant amethyst can also be found at the park in the Canary Hill search area.
Mining for Diamonds Hours
The diamond mine is open year-round from 8 am to 4 pm daily.
Purchase miner tickets within the visitor information center.
Costs are as follows:
Adults – $10 per person per day.
Children ages 6-12 – $6.
Children under 6 – are free.
Are Dogs Allowed?
Yes, dogs are allowed at the park and within the mining field. However, pets are required to be on a leash.
Other Arkansas State Parks Close By
Arkansas is also known as the ‘Natural State’ thanks to its beautiful hiking trails and landscapes. However, many people don’t realize that there are excellent parks to explore in the state. From the Buffalo National River to Hot Springs National Park, there’s plenty of outdoor adventure in Arkansas.
Visit Mount Nebo State Park for one of the best sunset views in the state and an overlook of Lake Dardanelle. Devil’s Den and Petit Jean State Park won’t disappoint for excellent hiking, camping, and mountain biking through fantastic scenery in western Arkansas.
Final Thoughts on Diamond Mining in Arkansas
For a one-of-a-kind prospecting experience in the Diamond State, make your way to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas and go mining for diamonds You can camp out under the stars while there and take advantage of the short hiking trails.
The park is open every day from 8 am to 4 pm, so plan your visit soon. This is the perfect summer activity. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave with a sparkling natural diamond in hand.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation writer and founder of The Happiness Function. Her goal is to help inspire people to build a life they love by sharing how simple and fun it is to travel locally, connect with nature, and explore off-the-beaten-path. You don't have to spend a lot of money or use a ton of vacation time to explore close to home.
Ashlee holds a BS degree in Biology and MS in Environmental Policy & Sustainability and has a passion for the outdoors. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo! They camp in their Aliner often and love road trips and hiking. You can read more about them at thehappinessfxn.com.