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Digging For Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Did you know there is a place where you can dig for your own diamonds?! This place is called Crater of Diamonds State Park and it is one of the only places in the world where you can search for real diamonds from their volcanic source. Yep! This 37-acre field is actually an eroded surface of a volcanic crater where you can find a variety of rocks, minerals, and gemstones – including diamonds!
Where is Crater of Diamonds State Park?
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located in Southeast Arkansas in Murfreesboro. When we visited we traveled from Hot Springs which was an easy day trip. But this Arkansas State Park is close to a number of different cities in Arkansas and other bordering states.
From Texarkana: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes by car
From Hot Springs: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes by car
From Little Rock: Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes by car
From Fayetteville/Bentonville: Approximately 3 hours 30 minutes by car
From Shreveport: Approximately 2 hours 15 minutes by car
From Dallas: Approximately 4 hours by car
From Tulsa: Approximately 4 hours 30 minutes by car
Brief History of Crater of Diamonds State Park
All around the park you’ll find different plaques of people that have made their mark on history at Crater of Diamonds State Park.
The first diamonds discovered in Pike County, Arkansas were found by John Wesley Huddleston in August 1906. He had originally purchased this land to build his home! After he found a few diamond-like stones he sent them to a Little Rock jeweler by the name of Charles S. Stifft, who confirmed they were genuine diamonds weighing 1.38-2.58-carats. Huddleston later sold the land for $36,000 to a group of investors in Little Rock. Although people searched for diamonds here for a number of years, it wasn’t until the 1970s that it became acquired as a state park that you can now dig for diamonds in!
How Often Are Diamonds Found?
These are examples of the different kind of crater diamonds found at Crater of Diamonds State Park.
When I posted a TikTok about Crater of Diamonds State Park an overwhelming amount of people were like “Nah, I bet people never find diamonds there.” And while personally, we didn’t find any diamonds this time (I’m chalking that up to our lack of preparation, not our lack of luck or skill lol) a lot of people actually do! In fact, since the park’s official opening in 1972 over 33,000 diamonds have been found!
On average, 600 diamonds are found each year. But some of the most notable diamonds are listed on one of the info plaques at the park. Some that caught my attention were Uncle Sam, the largest diamond found at Crater of Diamonds (and in the United States) ringing in at 40.23-carats (1924), the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight (1975), and the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas (1956). Yes, you get to name your diamonds if you find any! For larger diamonds more recently found, a 9.07-carat diamond was found in 2020!
When most people think of diamonds they imagine pretty crystal clear stones often found on engagement rings. But in reality, diamonds actually come in a variety of colors and are somewhat translucent although shiny! The three colors of diamonds that have been found at Crater of Diamonds State Park are white, brown, and yellow. In addition to diamonds, you can also find gemstones of amethyst, garnet, jasper, agate, quartz, and other rocks and minerals.
Things to Bring to Crater of Diamonds State Park
While Crater of Diamonds State Park does usually offer equipment rentals, they are not doing so currently (we’ll be sure to update you when this changes)! When they do offer rentals you can get shovels, box screen sifters, buckets, kneeling pads and other useful tools ranging from $4-8 each for a one day rental. If you want to get a variety of tools they also offer diamond hunting kit rentals which include all of what you need for a day of digging for diamonds. These range from $12-15.
Now, let me be fully transparent with you. When we visited Crater of Diamonds State Park we were highly unprepared… like LAUGHABLY unprepared. But what makes it worse is that we thought we were good to go by bringing a pasta strainer and some gardening tools. Here is what we would bring next time if we were wanting to get serious about diamond hunting.
Here’s a photo of what an actual screen sifter looks like. Please ignore our pasta strainer from now on.
- Bucket: You are actually allowed to take one 5 gallon bucket of sifted gravel with you per day. But if you aren’t interested in taking dirt home you can also use this to hold the dirt and minerals you want to sift through later at the wet sift stations.
- Shovel: I read online before we went that we could bring regular shovels but thought that might be a “bit much” and decided to bring some of my gardening tools instead. That was a mistake! The ground is relatively hard, especially when it hasn’t been raining, and using a bigger shovel allows you to collect dirt to sift more quickly!
- Screen sifter: I’m currently laughing about how I thought bringing a $1 pasta strainer would be a worthy sifter for tiny diamonds. If you can’t rent one from Crater of Diamonds State Park, then you can purchase one online before you go or purchase one from someone who makes them locally! When you’re driving in you’ll see a lot of people with roadside stands selling sifters.
- Gardening Gloves: As you probably could guess, digging for diamonds is messy! I recommend wearing a pair of gardening gloves so you don’t have to scrub all the mud from under your nails!
- Tent/Canopy: Yes, you can actually bring a tent, canopy, or large umbrella into the park which is perfect for providing some shade. Just make sure they are properly secured and you take them down when you leave. There are no overnight stays on the diamond field but you can camp on one of the sites in the park.
- Wagon: This might be a bit overkill too, but a wagon is especially useful if you’re bringing a lot of items and kids too! We saw a lot of families with wagons during our visit.
- Tarp/Garden Kneeler: One of the things I didn’t account for was the knee fatigue I felt after hours of digging. I should have known because I use a garden kneeler at home when tending to my landscaping. But alas, I’ll bring it next time!
How Do You Dig for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park?
Fortunately, the Arkansas Parks Service has a ton of helpful, informational signs all around the park explaining the history of the park as well as the steps to search for diamonds. But I thought it would also be helpful to highlight here as well!
Before you visit make sure you buy your ticket online and in advance. This is important because they do have a set number of tickets and visitors are allowed on the field each day.
Once you have your ticket (printed or digital copy) you can go into the visitor’s center located in the main parking lot and have them scan your ticket. They will also give you some additional information or brochures about the park. This is also where you can get your Arkansas State Parks passport stamped!
There is a museum located to the right when you walk in and a gift shop on the left. You are welcome to look at both of those before digging but we waited until after. But regardless of when you decide to go, don’t miss them!
Take your tools to the back door of the Visitor Center and head to the field. Most people recommend digging for diamonds where a stream of water is from recent rain or ravines because they are most often found near other heavy rocks or minerals.
Start digging and collecting! If you bring a bucket you can collect your dirt in it. After you’re satisfied with what you’ve collected it’s time to sift! There are actually two different ways to sift your dirt, dry sifting, and wet sifting.
Dry sifting is when you use the sifter with dry, loose soil by shaking it gently until you only have larger pieces of gravel. Then you search for brighter colored stones and diamonds. When we visited we didn’t dry sift because the ground was too wet from the rain.
Wet sifting is when you wash the dirt through a screen set. Wet sifting stations are available in multiple locations around the park. After sifting you can take your tools to the rinse station to clean up.
Right next to the rinse station, you’ll take your findings to one of the park rangers who will then examine each stone and gem telling you a little about each one. If you’re lucky, you’ll have found a diamond! After you have your findings examined you get to keep them! Yep, anything you find is yours.
How Much Does Crater of Diamonds Cost?
Crater of Diamonds costs $10 for adults and $6 for children (ages 6-12) and free for children under age 6.
Do I Get to Keep What I Find?
Yes! All rocks, minerals, gemstones, and diamonds are yours to keep if you find them!
Tips For Crater of Diamonds State Park
- Make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. If it is raining or has been recently raining, I also would recommend bringing a rain poncho and waterproof boots.
- Wear a hat and sunscreen and reapply often, especially in the summer!
- Bring a cooler with drinks and snacks. You are allowed to bring a cooler inside the park and there are picnic tables located around the diamond search area where you can eat and rest.
- Drink lots and lots of water! You’re going to be getting some exercise when digging for diamonds and it’s important to stay hydrated!
- While you can bring a variety of tools, no battery or motor-operated tools are allowed so leave your excavators at home okay?! 🙂
- Pets are allowed at Crater of Diamonds State Park however they must be kept on a leash at all times and under the owner’s control.
- If you dig any holes be sure to refill them before leaving the area so no one is injured. In addition, make sure to take all of your trash with you or drop it in one of the garbage bins located by the visitors center.
Other Information About Crater of Diamonds State Park
Hours of Operation:
- Diamond Search Area: 8am-4pm daily, year-round
- Visitor Center/Gift Shop: 8am-5pm daily, year-round
Crater of Diamonds State Park has 47 class AAA campsites with water/sewer/electric hookups (some have tent pads) and five walk-in tent sites. In addition, they have two bathhouses, a dumping station.
- AAA Campsites: $36/night on average
- Tent Sites: $14/night on average
Diamond Springs Water Park:
If you happen to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park in the summer you can also enjoy Diamond Springs Water Park located close to the Visitor Center! It’s a great place to cool off after looking for diamonds.
- Hours: Memorial Day-Labor Day: 11am-5pm, closed Mondays & Tuesdays
- Cost: $10 adults/teens, $6 children, $2 chaperone (no water admission)
Looking for other Arkansas travel information? Here’s some additional places to add to your bucket list!
I hope that this guide to Crater of Diamonds State Park has been helpful! But the real thing I want to know is, what would you name your diamond?