As the only place in the U.S. where you can mine for diamonds and keep them, Craters of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas is a must stop. In this area of Arkansas, bisitors learn how diamonds were formed and volcanoes. Before visitors head out in the 37-acre site, diamond miners get a demonstration of how to mine. Here’s what you need to know about Crater of Diamonds State Park with kids.
Crater of the Diamonds State Park
In August 1906, the first diamond was discovered in Arkansas. This set off a diamond rush in the area and the land changed hands several times.
The diamond-ladden soil was a commerical failure. The area became a tourist attraction with several operators opening the area to individuals.
In 1972, the State of Arkansas bought the land to develop it as a state park. In total 35,000 diamonds have been discovered in the park since 1972.
Crater of the Diamonds State Park with Kids
The Crater of the Diamonds State Park features a Visitor Center, a Diamond Discovery Center along with a plowed 37-acre field to mine. Additionally visitors will find a seasonal water park and restaurant along with a campground.
Upon arriving, most head to the Visitor Center to learn how diamonds are formed then get an overview of Arkansas geology. This area is an erroded volcanic crater and that’s why it’s rich in rocks, minerals and gemstones.
Next, the Diamond Discovery Center offers an interpretive area about diamond mining. The Crater of the Diamonds State Park is home to white, brown and yellow diamonds.
Visitors learn about the proper tools of the trade and get a lesson in how to mine the fields. The Diamond Discovery Center will also identify your rocks and minerals for free.
How to Spend the Day at Crater of the Diamonds State Park
First, dress for success and mud. The diamond field is uncovered dirt so I recommend water shoes or rubber boots. The field lacks trees so wear a hat and sunscreen. The park does offers an area to wash off muddy shoes.
After attending the demonstration, rent your tools and head to an area that speaks to you. Obviously the areas closest to the buildings are the most searched.
If it has rained recently, you can walk through the field. The rain could have undercovered a diamond for you.
The second method requires getting dirty. Grab a trowel and dig in the first six or 12 inches of dirt then put it through the screen to remove the dirt and harvest the pebbles. You are looking for a shiny pebble that looks almost metallic.
The soil is hard-baked clay and the gemstones might be inside of a dirt cluster so you have to break up the rock clusters. This method is followed by visiting the sluice area, a covered pavilion with water troughs. There you will clean up the pebbles looking for a diamond to appear.
Finally, if you’ve found some pebbles, the park staff will identity each for you for free. If you’re lucky, they will weigh your gemstone as well.
Top Finds in Crater of the Diamonds State Park
Since 1972, here’s a list of the largest diamonds discovered.
- 40.23-carat Uncle Sam Diamond–largest diamond discovered in the U.S.
- 16.37-carat Amarillo Diamond
- 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas Diamond
- 8.52-carat Esperanza Diamond
Our Experience at Crater of Diamonds State Park
We paid our admission and rented some tools for about $40 and we were ready to discover a diamond in the rough. Then the park ranger told us we needed to attend the demonstration on diamond hunting. OK, we headed to diamond digging school and felt even luckier.
With a little knowledge and absolutely no technique, we hit the 37-acre plowed field. Just a heads up, it’s dirty so leave the cute sandals in the car.
We dug for an hour before we were hot and sweaty. Next we took our bucket of treasure-ladden dirt to the covered pavilion to wash our soil through a fine screen. This was a bit tedious but the thrill of discovering the next big diamond pushed me forward. My kids disappeared and splashed in the water trough instead. So I mentally claimed all the diamonds in my dirt.
With a handful of shiny rocks, I headed to the Diamond Discovery Center feeling lucky for its free diamond identification. After waiting in line for the next available gemologist, I handed over my collection.
I had a fine collection of quartz along with some minerals I don’t remember the name of, mainly shiny, tiny rocks. After spending a couple of hours working in the dirt, I bought the 50¢ glass vial for my treasures .
But don’t let that discourage you. I didn’t strike it rich but it’s a fun day and you will learn about geology and mining. Afterwards you can splash at the water park next door.
Diamond Springs Water Park
If you visit during the summer, you can splash in the Diamond Springs Water Park. It’s a nearly 4,200-square food wading pool with a mining theme. Super cute and refresing for little kids though lacks features for bigger kids.
Open daily from Memorial Day to mid-August and weekends only until Labor Day. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for those over 42 inches tall and $6 for those under 42 inches. Babies under 2 are free and chaperones (non-swimmers) are $2.
Crater of the Diamonds State Park Camping
The Crater of the Diamonds State Park features a campground with developed sites along with a modern restrooms with hot showers. Find 47 developed sites with electricity (both 30-amp and 50-amp sites) along with water and sewer. Additionally find five walk-in sites. Campground features free WiFi.
Campground open year-round. Sites with electricity, water and sewer are $40 a night. Walk-in sites are $14 a night. Reservations are recommended.
Details for Crater of the Diamonds State Park
It’s about 250 miles from Dallas, Texas, and about 110 miles from Little Rock. It’s 45 miles off of I-30, north of Hope, Arkansas.
Located at 209 State Park Rd. in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. It’s open year-round from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 7 p.m. from Memorial Day until mid-August.
Adult admission (12+) is $10. Kids (6 to 12) are $6 and kids 5 and under are free.