Crater of Diamonds State Park: One of the Coolest Parks in Arkansas

mining for diamonds at crater of diamonds state park

Have you ever wanted to find a real diamond in the rough? Well, you literally can at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

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?

Ashlee and Pablo happily mining for diamonds.

Mining for diamonds.

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’s diamond industry and the history of diamond discoveries in the surrounding area.

In addition, the park has an aquatic playground 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 diamonds. Who knows? You might just find your own diamond in a volcanic crater.

Tips on Digging for Diamonds

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Pablo mining 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.

Trip Planning: 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

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Old building at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

There are three main ways to mine: walking the surface, surface sifting, and wet sifting. Each technique is explained in more detail below.

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. Lots of 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, and 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. 

How Do You 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 you 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, 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

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Our Aliner Camping hiding in the trees.

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. Pablo and I had a blast!

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 U.S.

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, many quality diamonds weighing a carat have been found at the park. 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

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Canary Hill mining area.

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.

Diamond Mining Hours

The diamond mine is open year-round from 8 am to 4 pm daily.

Cost

You can purchase mining tickets within the Visitor Center. Costs are as follows:

  • Adults – $15 per person per day.
  • Children ages 6-12 – $7.
  • 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. 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 in western Arkansas offer excellent hiking, camping, and mountain biking through fantastic scenery.

Have Fun Diamond Mining in Arkansas

For a one-of-a-kind prospecting experience, make your way to Crater of Diamonds. You can camp out under the stars while there and take advantage of the short hiking trails.

This is the perfect summer activity. Who knows, maybe you’ll leave with a sparkling natural diamond in hand.

Save for Later!

Pin this guide on Pinterest to plan your trip later.

Wet and dry sift mining for diamonds

This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks and has been syndicated with permission.

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.

12 Comments

  1. Rhonda on June 9, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    What a great tip for a fun day activity. I wonder if the locals spend all day there looking for their ‘pot of gold’. A definite must-do if I’m in the area.



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 11, 2022 at 10:14 am

      Hi Rhonda – we met a lot of locals that have found many diamonds over the years. They were so fun to speak with!



  2. Sharyn McCullum on June 9, 2022 at 2:53 am

    I’ve heard of gold mining like this but not diamonds. How much fun it would be to do this – and even better if I find a diamond!



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 11, 2022 at 10:14 am

      Hi Sharyn! It would be so incredible to find a diamond. We hope you have fun visiting.



  3. Chelsea on June 8, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    I never would have thought a park like this would be in Arkansas! It looks like a real diamond in the rough! The camping options look wonderful too. I’ll definitely be saving this post in case I find myself in the area.



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 11, 2022 at 10:13 am

      Hi Chelsea! Thanks for stopping by. You would love visiting Arkansas. There are so many amazing state parks!



  4. Renée on June 8, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    If I could find “Uncle Sam” sign me up! I could see the draw for some people to do this, and it’s certainly one of the most unique things you could do.



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 11, 2022 at 10:12 am

      Hi there – can you imagine? Haha, how lucky would that be!



  5. Burt Randall on June 5, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    Did you’guys find any diamonds ?! Have fun next time you visit.



    • Ashlee Fechino on June 7, 2022 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Uncle Burt! No, we didn’t find a diamond. Haha – if we did you would be the first to know!



      • Julia on June 8, 2022 at 1:58 pm

        This sounds like the perfect activity to relax for a day after hiking all the trails! Definitely put that on my bucketlist – in hopes of also finding a fancy diamond! ?



        • Ashlee Fechino on June 11, 2022 at 10:12 am

          Hi Julia! Thanks for reading. Yes, finding a diamond would be so crazy!! People do find diamonds all the time.