Did you know that there’s a diamond mine that’s open to the public? And that you get to keep what you find? Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas is home to a 37.5-acre diamond field where you can experience a truly unique experience. The field sits atop an eroded volcanic crater that produced diamonds and other gems. While your chances of finding a gigantic diamond are not very good, small diamonds are found in the park nearly every day. Most of the diamonds are too small to be cut, but could be mounted in a pendant. Wouldn’t a diamond make one heck of a souvenir?
Diamonds were first found there in 1906. Efforts to turn it into a commercial mine failed several times. After several years as a commercial tourist attraction, the State of Arkansas purchased the field in 1972 and turned it into a state park.
Start your visit in the Diamond Discovery Center, an interpretive center that includes exhibits where you can learn all about diamonds and about popular methods of searching for diamonds. And it’s not just diamonds you’re looking for; other precious gems can also be found in the field.
One very important point to learn is what you are looking for. When we think of diamonds, the image that probably comes to mind is of white diamonds that have been cut with many facets. The diamonds at Crater of Diamonds can be white, brown, or yellow. The shape is also not what you might expect–they are smooth and rounded.
There are different methods for searching for diamonds. After a hard rain, a particularly productive method is to just search the surface looking for diamonds lying on top of the soil. But most people like to get dirty and dig and screen for diamonds. You can either bring your own equipment or rent it or buy it there. You definitely won’t want to wear your Sunday best. Diamond hunting can be dirty work.
Once you are outfitted, it’s time to head out to the field in search of treasure. It doesn’t look like much–just a big field of dirt!
When we visited, we opted to rent some equipment–a shovel, bucket, and screen. It was hard work, so we all took turns.
We didn’t find any diamonds, but while my husband was washing and screening his dirt, he met a man who had found a half-carat diamond the week before. He had it with him and showed it to us.
So, you’re probably all excited and ready to go search for diamonds yourself, right? I haven’t told you the bad news yet. Arkansas can be really, really, really hot in the summer.
Fortunately, there’s good news too. A very wise person (most likely a parent) decided some years ago that the perfect complement to a hot diamond field would be a refreshing water park. Yep, right there on site is Diamond Springs Water Park. It’s not the biggest or best water park you’ve ever been to, but after sweating on a hot diamond field for a couple hours, you won’t care! There’s a large wading pool with waterfalls, water jets, and a couple of water slides.
Now, is that a reason to go to Arkansas or what? This one is truly a hidden gem of an attraction. And it’s reasonably priced too. It costs $10 for adults and $6 for kids (6-12) to search for diamonds. Kids under 6 are free. Equipment rental is extra. The water park costs $10 for people taller than 42″ and $6 for shorter people. Children under 2 are free. There’s also a restaurant onsite.
This attraction appears in my e-book, How to Visit All 50 States in 12 Trips.