Digging for Diamonds at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park
About 6 months ago, our 11 year old science loving daughter told us she wanted to dig for diamonds. I laughed and asked her where she would like to dig for these diamonds. She immediately said, “At Crater of Diamonds State Park”, like I should have known, of course. I am not sure where this Texas girl heard about digging for diamonds in Arkansas, but she was on a mission to go diamond digging. Each time we talked about going on a trip, she would bring it up, so we decided to make her dream come true and go diamond digging.
Crater of Diamond State Park is the only diamond producing area in the world open to the public. So if you want to find diamonds, it’s the place to go. The park offers a 37-acre plowed field for diamond searching. Over 75,000 diamonds have been found in the area, with the largest being The Uncle Sam. This 40.23 carat diamond was found in 1924 and is the largest diamond found in North America. A few days before we visited the park, a 14 year old boy found a 7.44 carat diamond. It was the 7th largest diamond found since 1972 and he found it within the first 30 minutes of walking onto the diamond field. We were not so lucky. After about 4 hours of digging, sifting and searching all we had found was calcite and quartz. I was pretty sure the quartz was a diamond, but the lady at the verification area did not agree. We left the park that day with no diamonds, but we took home some pretty quartz and a whole bunch of great memories!
What should you look for?
When searching for diamonds it is important to know what you are looking for. Diamonds found at the crater are usually about the size of a match head and have a metallic shine to them. The well rounded crystals have an oily, slick outer surface. Usually they are clean, because dirt does not stick to them. White, yellow and brown are the most common colors found in the park. Most people are looking for diamonds, but other semi-precious stones can be found. Keep your eyes open for barite, agate, amethyst, quartz, calcite and jasper. The park sells a field guide for a few dollars to help you identify these stones.
What will you need?
How much or how little you need is up to you. Many people just walk around the field and look closely at the ground as they are walking. This method is more successful after a big rain. The young man that found the 7.44 carat diamond saw it laying on the ground as he walked across the field. If you are wanting to do a little digging, you may want to bring a few things from home.
- Hand shovels
- Kid’s sand-pile tools are great if you have little ones
- Wagon (This is not necessary, but it would have made carrying everything easier.)
- Ziploc bags (to hold your finds)
If you do not have these items, the park does rent diamond hunting equipment. A small box screen can be rented for $4 with a $20 deposit. We recommend getting one of these for everyone wanting to search for diamonds. You can rent a bucket, screen set and shovel for $12 with a $45 deposit.
What do you wear?
You should know going into this you will get dirty, so wear old clothes. If it has rained recently, you may want to wear old shoes or rain boots. A hat and sunglasses will be necessities if you are visiting in the summer. There is almost no shade available on the diamond field.
How do you look for Diamonds?
Surface Searching is the easiest way to search for diamonds. You will walk around and observe the surface of the field looking for crystals that have been exposed by rain or plowing. You can also use a small hand tool to turn over the top layer of dirt. This would have been my preferred method of searching, if I had not had my kids with me. If you read about the diamonds found at the park, a large majority of them were found while surface searching.
Screening seems to be the most popular method of searching. You will need to have a box screen for this method. You will shake soil through the screen, while looking for minerals that are too large to fit through the screen. If you are planning on screening, you will want to find an area where the soil is dry.
Wet screening is usually the method used by more experienced diamond hunters. It requires you to use water available in streams running through the field or in washing pavilions. You will wash dirt through a screen and see what is left behind.
When we were searching we did a little screening and wet screening. Both were fun, but the kids really enjoyed using wet screening in a small stream near the area we were searching.
How much is admission?
Admission to the park is free, but if you want to enter the diamond field you must pay an entrance fee. The adults in the family will pay $10, while kids ages 6-12 are $6. Kids 5 and under are free.
Where can you stay?
We just visited the park for the day, but if you are needing overnight accommodations the park does have a campground. There are 47 sites that will accommodate RVs or tents. Each site has 30/50 amp electrical hookups and sewer. The campground has two bathhouses and a laundry facility. You can rent a site for $32 a night. If you would like to make reservations, just click here.
If you are not looking to camp at the park, the nearby town of Murfreesboro offers many other lodging opportunities.
We did not get lucky enough to find a diamond that day, but none of us left the park feeling disappointed. We made sure before we arrived at the park everyone knew the chances were slim of us finding a diamond, but that did not keep us from enjoying the search. I am not going to lie, it is a little addicting. I found myself not wanting to stop. That next shovel of dirt just may be the one that holds a diamond, but all good things must come to an end. There is always next time, and there will be a next time for our family!
If you are looking to dig in the dirt, make memories with your kids and maybe get lucky enough to find a diamond, then Crater of Diamond State Park is definitely a place you should visit. If you do find a diamond make sure you leave us a comment to tell us all about it!
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