Crater of Diamonds State Park is a place where you literally play the fun and exciting game of“finders, keepers.” The prize here being diamonds! In the middle of nowhere Arkansas(a.k.a. the town of Murfreesboro) is a field of 37 acres where for $10/day you can dig to your hearts’ content looking for diamonds making this the only diamond mine in the world open to the public. And don’t think this is a gimmick. Over 75,000 diamonds have been found in the“Crater” with an average of 600/year. The largest diamond found in North America was found at Crater of Diamonds topping out at 40.23 carats. In 1998, the Strawn-Wagner Diamond weighing 1.09 carats was graded by the American Gem Society as a 0/0/0“D” Flawless perfect diamond– a“one in a billion diamond”– and found right here in Arkansas.
The park was established in 1972 “to responsibly manage and interpret this unique site and to provide a meaningful diamond mining experience for all guests and future generations.” We find that pretty funny because we have never come across a state park whose intent is to provide a meaningful diamond mining experience mission. All the more reason we wanted to go! The parks campground is set among beautiful pine trees and offers full hook-up sites large enough to fit our 45’ RV without a problem. The campground has 47 nicely shaded RV sites with water/electric/sewer hookup(many of which have tent pads and five walk-in tent sites. The campground has two modern bathhouse with hot showers; one bathhouse includes a laundry and both were very clean and cared for all day long. If you need a dump station one is conveniently located as you leave the campground. There is also free Wi-Fi in the campground. There is a nice hiking trail that leaves from the campground and loops back around after venturing through the forest and along a river. It is not a long trail but a nice walk and we never saw anybody on it while we were there. Now back to diamond hunting. The“crater” is essentially a plowed field that is the eroded surface of a volcanic crater containing a variety of rocks, crystals, and gemstones. The field is plowed periodically to expose underlying layers of dirt and gems. The visitor center has interactive exhibits highlighting the unique history of the park and geology of Arkansas diamonds. They also tempt you with pictures of diamonds that have been found in the park. At the Diamond Discovery Center visitors learn about diamonds, but more importantly, techniques on how to find them.
Once you have rented (or brought your own) diamond digging equipment like trowels, shovels, buckets, sifting screens, etc. then it is time to head out into the crater. The techniques vary widely from walking along looking for smooth shiny diamonds (because dirt and mud don’t stick to the smooth surface of diamonds) to digging up a bucket full of dirt and sifting through water like gold mining. We talked to one man who uses a paint brush to lightly brush away loose dirt to reveal the diamonds. Diamonds come in a rainbow of colors but the predominant colors found here are white, brown, and yellow. If you think you found a precious stone, staff is on hand to positively identify it for you. And if you want it, you keep it! No matter what it is.