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Did you know there is a state park in the U.S. that has a diamond mine open to the public where you you can hunt for diamonds and get to keep anything you find? Well there is. Crater of Diamonds State Park located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas has a 37 acre mine field where you can do just that.
Diamonds were first found in 1906 by John Wesley Huddleston on a 160 acre farm he had purchased earlier in 1905. The stones were sent to a jeweler in Little Rock, Arkansas and they were confirmed to be diamonds. Huddleston then sold the farm for $36,000. There are markers showing the location of the first diamonds found on the south end of the diamond field. In 1972 the land was acquired by the state of Arkansas and designated as a state park in 1973. Click here to see a timeline detailing the activity at the mine.
Digging for Diamonds, Crater of Diamonds State Park
There are 37 acres of open field where the digging takes place. 25% of all diamonds found are actually spotted on the surface by those walking the fields. The majority of the finds come from digging and screening the material to find these elusive gems. There are several videos and instruction pages throughout the internet. They provide a quick how-to on where to dig and the proper way to screen. With a little research you can increase your odds of finding that buried treasure.
The diamond field is plowed periodically when weather permits to loosen the surface to promote the hunt for diamonds. There are two washing pavilions that contain several sluice boxes where you will do your screening. Be prepared and wear clothes that can get dirty because you will get dirty. You may bring in your own unpowered equipment. You can also rent the equipment necessary to do the job from the park for a small fee. The diamond field is open 7 days a week and cost $10 per adult to enter for the day.
Crater of Diamonds State Park greets visitors with an Information Center and Gift shop. Take some time and walk the exhibits to learn about the parks history as well as some of its historic finds. You will pass through the Diamond Discovery Center as you make your way to the mine field. The interpretive center offers an in-depth introduction to diamond hunting. There you can tour the exhibits and talk with the interpretive staff.
Equipment rental is on the lower level as well as park staff who review your finds and certify any diamonds you find. There is a large pavilion that is available for groups to rent for events. The pavilion has heat and air, tables, sink, microwave, and refrigerator.
There is also Diamond Springs Water Park just off the Information Center Parking lot for cooling off with the kids. The water park has a 4,166 square feet wading pool with spray geysers, sprayers, water jets, two water slides and waterfall hideaways. The water park requires an additional fee for entrance.
Crater of Diamonds State Park Camping
We have always been impressed with Arkansas State Park campgrounds as they are always clean and the facilities top notch. Crater of Diamonds has 47 Class AAA sites including water, electric, and sewer hookups while most include tent pads. There are two modern shower houses. Note: during a recent visit, one of them has been torn down and a new one is currently under construction. Several walk in tent sites are available located directly across from one of the shower houses.
Crater of Diamonds State Park Trails
There are 3 trails available at the park. The prospector trail offers a view of the park’s geological feature. The trail head is located in the mine field area so an entry fee is required to access this one.
The Little Missouri Trail head is located within the campground. The trail makes its way through the woods to the Little Missouri River. The complete loop is 1.2 miles of level terrain with half of the trail being paved and wheelchair accessible to the river.
Last is the Wildlife Observation Blind Trail which leads visitors to an observation blind where you can view deer, squirrels, armadillos and numerous bird species. The Wildlife Observation Blind trail head is located off of the main park road when you first enter the park from highway 301.
We have visited this park two times now and plan on returning again. The diamond bug has got us like so many others and why not use it for an excuse to get some exercise while basking in the sunlight?