Took my littles and we had fun panning for a hot minute but the trails were good, the playground was good and the facilities were very clean! Something way out of our normal!
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.
Winter, Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit. The diamond field is a large, unshaded field.
Rains cause the soil to cake up on shoes and make it difficult to walk in the field.
I’ve never found a diamond but have seen others find them!
Be prepared for weather and arrive early to get rental gear.
Loved our day trip just me and my daughter so I can’t review camp grounds but I will camp the next round and bring the whole clan. Open fields of dirt to dig in they till up the soil to make digging easier.Take umbrellas and a wagon to pull supplies with ,also to haul dirt to the washing area. Carry drinking water snacks , 5 gallon bucket and garden tools…. have fun get dirty.
I was pleasantly suprised with our stay at crater of diamonds. We only stayed the weekend but definitely would have been happy with a longer stay. The first day we got there it was pretty late so the kids played at the park beside our campsite whilenwe setup. The bath house was also beside our site as well as a laundromat. The bathrooms and showers were very clean. The next day we went to the diamond mines and dug for diamonds, this was so much fun! We found some small quartz that were very pretty, then we ate at the kimberlite cafe which is right beside the mines. Then to cool off, we spent the rest of the day at the water park which was perfect for my young children. There were slides and waterfalls and the water only goes to 3 ft at the deepest points.
The facilities here are top notch. There are lots of shady camping spots and several nice public restrooms. The paved walking trail down to the river was a nice surprise. Everything inside the parks is an additional cost so you have to pay to swim or dig for diamonds. Not a big deal, but we were expecting to be able to use the pool and it was a big factor for staying inside the state park. Pool admission is $10 a person which seems a little high.
Nice state park. Campsites are large and private. Bathhouse nice and clean. There is a water play area but we enjoyed searching for diamonds. They have a 40 acre area that is plowed every so often. Also they have water troughs for sifting for diamonds. They rent sifting boxes and other tools or you can bring your own.
Great campground with activities and hiking trails
This place would have gotten a full 5 stars, but there is a very unpredictable side to this campground. What is that you ask? Well, it isn’t large and that makes for some difficult reservations a times.
I had come through this area during a weekend and checked into a site well in advance only to discover that it was booked already. I had let a friend know about the site when they were traveling through and also the same results when looking almost a month in advance. But on a third attempt to book on a weekend it was as though all sites were nearly empty only a week out for the weekend ahead. So this site isn’t really consistent on being able to book in advance.
So what is the allure of this site in particular? THE DIAMOND MINE!! Yep, I said it, DIAMONDS!
For only a small fee you can go inside and hunt for your next big come up and even name your find, should you uncover one. And don’t think this is just some random tourist trap, because several diamonds are in fact found regularly there (most are not large). It is something the entire family can do together or you can do on your own.
But the mine, while the biggest attraction, is not alone. There is also a children’s waterpark area, hiking trails and many other fun things within a short drive back into town.
There are only about 5 primitive tent sites and around 40 RV or improved sites. So there it is the big kicker!
Now with that said, what does this campground look like that it would rate 5 stars if it wasn’t so stinking challenging to get into?
It is nice, the facilities are well maintained, the roads are smooth, the trees are abundant and it is a quiet despite the traffic that flows in daily for the mine. Each campsite is large enough to not feel piled on top of your neighbor and has the typical amenities of a picnic table and fire ring.
It seemed when I was there it had been updated fairly recently in several aspects and perhaps it was because it was busy season but it was very well maintained in the restroom facilities.
I have stayed at a number of state parks in Arkansas and I am overall very pleased on how they are spending that little extra tax dollar to allow everyone to truly enjoy “The Natural State.”
- Bring old clothes for digging. You will best enjoy the mining experience if you aren’t worried about what you are wearing so you can really get in there and get dirty.
- Try wet sifting instead of just dry sifting it will bring the experience at the mine to life.
- Check out the things to do in town as well. This campsite is close to the town of Murfreesboro which has so many strange little interesting things. While there you can check out all there is to offer just off the beaten path.
little hard to find at first our GPS took some very back back roads as in gravel. Once there it was great. We only stayed over night as we passed through. but would stay again very pretty place. Didnt find any Diamonds.