Diamond Digging in Arkansas: What You Need to Know
You might be thinking, “Diamond digging in Arkansas? In the United States?”
Yes, it’s a real thing, I promise!
Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only active diamond mine in the US and the only one where the public can search for diamonds in their original volcanic source.
Today, you’ll learn all about digging for diamonds in the Crater of Diamonds State Park, what to expect, what to bring, and what else you can do in the area.
About Crater of Diamonds State Park
The Crater of Diamonds State Park is a 911-acre state park in Arkansas where you can find the only diamond mine in the world accessible to the public.
The first diamonds were discovered in this area in 1906 by John Huddleston, who sent them to a jeweler and confirmed them to be real diamonds.
Soon afterward, Huddleston sold his farm for $36,000 to a commercial mining company, after which it changed owners several times.
News of this discovery spread, and a “diamond rush” in the area began. Thousands of aspiring diamond miners showed up in Murfreesboro.
In 1950, the property was opened as a public pay-to-prospect mine, and the name was changed to “Crater of Diamonds.” The State of Arkansas bought the property in 1972 and began operating as “Crater of Diamonds State Park.”
Today, it remains a pay-to-prospect farm that’s open year-round, attracting over 100,000 visits per year, with some guests visiting multiple times.
The spot where the first diamonds were found is marked by a historical marker on the field itself.
Will you get rich digging diamonds?
Honestly, probably not.
And the numbers back it up.
Since the state park opened in 1972, there have been around 3 million paid visits resulting in around 30,000 reported diamond finds.
Most of the diamonds found here, with very few exceptions, are too small to cut into a mountable stone. The total weight of the diamonds found in the park is a little under 6,000 carats, and thus the average stone weighs around .20 carat.
To sum it up, while prospecting diamonds in Crater of Diamonds State Park is a fun activity for the whole family, you probably won’t strike it rich.
Notable Diamonds Found In Crater Of Diamonds State Park
The Uncle Sam diamond is the largest diamond ever found in the US, with a weight of 40.23 carats. It was found in 1924 by Wesley Oley Basham.
The Amarillo Starlight diamond is the largest diamond ever found by a park visitor since the Crater of Diamonds State Park was established in 1972. It was found in 1975 by WW Johnson of Texas.
It was a white diamond weighing 16.37 carats, but it has since been cut into a 7.54-carat marquise.
By far, the most perfect in terms of color and clarity is the Strawn-Wagner diamond, graded the perfect “Triple Zero” (Cut/Color/Clarity) by the American Gem Society.
It was found in 1990 by Shirley Strawn, initially weighing 3.09 carats and eventually cut down to a 1.09-carat round brilliant-cut diamond. It is currently on display in the Crater of Diamonds State Park after they purchased it from Strawn.
Address: 209 State Park Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-3113
Diamond Search Area Hours: Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day: Mon–Sun 8am–7pm; rest of the year: Mon–Sun 8am–4pm; Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, noon Christmas Eve through Christmas Day
Diamond Discovery Center/Visitor Center/Gift Shop Hours: Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day: Mon–Sun 8am–8pm; rest of the year: Mon–Sun 8am–5pm; Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, noon Christmas Eve through Christmas Day
Campground/Picnic Hours: Open all year round
Cost: $10 per head for adults; $6 per head for children 6 to 12 years old; Free for children below 6 years old
Website: Crater of Diamonds State Park
Diamond Digging: Everything You Need To Know
Diamonds and other minerals found at this state park are genuine Arkansas minerals; that is, they aren’t brought in from outside sources (or “salted”) to enrich the soil or to entice visitors to come to the park.
However, the diamond search area is plowed periodically to help loosen the soil. There is no definite schedule, but they do their best to plow once a month during spring, summer, and fall.
The three colors of diamonds found here in the park are white, brown, and yellow. Over 40 different rocks and minerals occur naturally in the park, including quartz, amethyst, agate, garnet, jasper, hematite, peridotite, and many others.
Tools aren’t strictly necessary to look for diamonds. Just walking around the park and looking down on the ground, also called surface searching, may prove fruitful, especially if it has just rained.
When it rains, water exposes heavier stones at the surface while it washes down loose soil, as well as smaller rocks and minerals.
However, most diamond prospectors prefer digging in the soil. You can bring your own tools or rent tools at the park*. Power tools or any equipment that needs a battery or a motor to run are prohibited.
Here are some of the diamond search tools you’ll likely be using:
- Pick/trowel – to loosen rocky or packed soil
- Spade shovel – to dig through the soil; a pointed spade shovel is easier to use than a flat square one
- Bucket/wheelbarrow – to transport soil to the sifting location
- Screen box – to sift soil and remove dirt so that only rocks and minerals remain
You can do dry sifting, that is, you simply sift the soil that you dug up. Wet sifting, on the other hand, is normally done in a water source, whether a natural one like a stream or pond, or an artificial one like a water tank.
Some prospectors dig around six inches to a foot deep, while others dig deeper (note that dug holes need to be refilled every day).
Some examine one shovelful of soil at a time, while others examine a larger amount of soil. Some sift the soil once, while others sift the same soil multiple times.
There is no single technique that’s effective. You’ll have to undergo trial and error for multiple techniques to find the one that works for you.
Among the best places to dig are ravines where water washes, as this is where heavy rocks and minerals are concentrated.
An instructional video demonstrating methods and techniques for diamond digging is available throughout the year in the Diamond Discovery Center, so make sure to watch that when you first visit the park.
When you’re done digging, you can go to the Diamond Discovery Center to have your finds identified and certified for free.
Note that it’s “finders keepers” here; you get to keep whatever diamond or mineral you find, tax-free.
You’re also allowed to take up to five gallons of dirt so you can sieve through the dirt on your own time.
*Important COVID-19 Information
If you’re reading this while the COVID-19 pandemic is going on, take note of the following rules:
- Admission in the Crater of Diamonds State Park is limited to 800 persons per day
- Maximum occupancy in the Visitor Center is limited to 15 persons at a time
- No diamond mining tool rentals
- Face covering required for all present (except children under 10) in the Visitor Center, Diamond Discovery Center, North and South Sluice Pavilions, and all four sun shelters
- Miners will be asked to keep a 12-foot distance from each other at all times
Other Things To Do In Crater of Diamonds State Park
While diamond digging is the big draw of the Crater of Diamonds State Park, there are other activities available. Here are some of the other things to do in the state park.
Crater of Diamonds State Park has two long-ish walking trails, namely, the Little Missouri River Trail and the Prospector Trail, and a third shorter walking trail, namely, the Wildlife Observation Blind Trail.
The paved, ADA-accessible Little Missouri River Trail starts from the campground and winds through the woods, then passes by the scenic Little Missouri River. You can either end it at this point or go on the trail and go back to your starting point.
On the other hand, the Prospector Trail is graveled, starts near the water park, circles the diamond mine, then goes back to the starting point. It offers a gorgeous firsthand view of the park’s unique geological features.
The Wildlife Observation Blind Trail leads to… a wildlife observation blind. Here, you can observe wildlife such as whitetail deer, gray squirrels, armadillos, numerous bird species, and many more.
You can do river bank fishing on the Little Missouri River via Terrell Road if you have a fishing license. Largemouth bass, catfish, bream, and rainbow trout can all be caught here, with the best fishing time being during the late summer.
Diamond Springs Water Park
If digging for diamonds, hiking, or fishing aren’t enough, or don’t do it for you, perhaps a water park will tickle your fancy.
Diamond Springs Water Park is a mining-themed aquatic playground featuring geysers, water jets, animated waterspouts, hidden waterfalls, and water slides.
Admission fee is $10 for persons with heights 42 inches and above, $6 for those below 42 inches, and free for children below 2 years old.
Chaperones (those who can accompany children but aren’t going into the water) have an admission fee of $2. Family season passes are also available for $185.
They’re open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, but days of operation vary. Check back on their website often for updates.
The water park is also available for private pool parties after normal operating hours, inclusive of lifeguards.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re reading this while the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, take note that the Diamond Springs Water Park is closed until further notice.
Check back on the Arkansas State Park COVID-19 page for updates on what’s open, what’s closed, and what services are available.
Other Things To Do In Murfreesboro, AR
While diamond digging and other activities in Crater of Diamonds State Park are fun, Murfreesboro does have other things to offer. Here are some things you can do in Murfreesboro.
Town Square Gallery
Town Square Gallery is not a very large gallery, but it’s a unique one that offers rare and excellent art, jewelry, artifacts, handmade items, gemstones, and minerals from all over the world.
You can certainly find something of historical beauty to take home that complements your style.
Address: 21 Courthouse Square, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2029
Website: Town Square Gallery
If diamond digging isn’t enough outdoors for you, perhaps Lake Greeson can scratch that itch.
Lake Greeson is a manmade lake formed when the Narrows Dam was built on the Little Missouri River in 1950.
The 12-mile lake is surrounded by almost 16,000 acres of public land. There are plenty of recreational activities available here, such as walking and hiking, ATV riding, wildlife viewing, swimming, boating, camping, and fishing.
It’s a great spot for fishing for striped bass, black bass, white bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. Lake Greeson is also stocked with northern pike, walleye, and rainbow trout.
The nearest access from Murfreesboro is the Narrows Dam Public Use Area.
Address: 155 Dynamite Hill Rd, Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Website: Lake Greeson
Dino Dig is an indoor sandpit where kids and kids at heart can dig up polished gemstones among dinosaurs.
So if you have kids who like digging but don’t like the outdoors very much, they’ll have a fun time in Dino Dig.
They give you a bag where you can keep all the treasures you dig up, and then head to the gift shop for unique gifts and souvenirs.
Address: 1124 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-3466
Hours: Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day: Mon–Sun 9am–8pm; rest of the year: Mon–Sun 9am–6pm
Cost: $8 per head for everyone
Website: Dino Dig
Information And Tips On Visiting Crater of Diamonds State Park and Murfreesboro, AR
Getting To Murfreesboro, AR
If you’re planning on flying to Murfreesboro, the nearest airports are Memorial Field Airport (HOT), Texarkana Regional Airport (TXK), South Arkansas Regional Airport (ELD), and Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT).
These airports are still more than 50 miles away from Murfreesboro, so prepare for quite a drive.
The nearest interstate to Murfreesboro is I-30, and you can get off at either Exit 31 (AR 29, Hope), 44 (AR 24, Prescott), or 46 (AR 19, Prescott).
Getting To Crater of Diamonds State Park
Once you get to Murfreesboro, look for the courthouse square in downtown Murfreesboro (North Washington Avenue), then travel two miles southeast on Ark. 301 to the park.
Where To Stay In Murfreesboro
For a small town, there are a variety of lodging options in Murfreesboro. Here are some of them.
Little Shamrock Motel & Water Park
Address: 919 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2342
Amenities: In-room Mini-fridge, microwave, coffee machine; picnic area, play area, water park
Website: Little Shamrock Motel & Water Park
The Ireland Hotel
Address: 69 Courthouse Square, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-925-3594
About: Cozy rooms; no children or pets allowed; free access to swimming pool at the Little Shamrock Motel
Website: The Ireland Hotel
Queen of Diamonds Inn
Address: 318 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-3105
Amenities: King- and queen-sized beds, satellite TV, free WiFi, swimming pool, free parking
Website: Queen of Diamonds Inn
Samantha’s Timber Inn
Address: 24 Hwy 27 North, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-3594
Amenities: Themed rooms, satellite TV, mini-fridge, bath, barbecue, microwave, coffeemaker
Website: Samantha’s Timber Inn
Diamond Oaks Inn
Address: 1701 S Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-1535
Amenities: King- and queen-sized beds, bath, satellite TV, diamond digging tools, hot tub, complimentary coffee and bottled water, swimming pool, fire pit, barbecue grill
Website: Diamond Oaks Inn
Yellow Diamond Inn Boutique Hotel
Address: 705 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2131
Amenities: Parking at your door, king-, queen-, and full-sized beds, full kitchens, in-room coffee, minifridge, free WiFi, picnic area, grills,
Website: Yellow Diamond Inn Boutique Hotel
Budget Diamond Hunter’s House
Address: 919 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2342
About: Private house; no pets, wheelchair inaccessible, air-conditioned, free WiFi, equipped kitchen, barbecue area available
Website: Budget Diamond Hunter’s House
Diamonds Old West Hotel / Cabins
Address: 2097 Highway 19 North, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-245-8433
Amenities: fireplaces, 2-person Jacuzzi tub, in-room massages, private decks or porches, playground, pedal car track, tepees, corn pit
Website: Diamonds Old West Hotel / Cabins
Murfreesboro RV Park
Address: 1410 S Washington, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-4058
Amenities: 10 spacious level campsites available; Free ice, free WiFi, free DVD library rentals, fire pits, diamond mining classes, shower, laundry, play area, pet-friendly, firewood, diamond hunting tools for rent; Full hookup: water, sewer, electric
Website: Murfreesboro RV Park
Where To Stay In Crater of Diamonds State Park
You can also stay within or close to the state park itself.
Crater of Diamonds State Park Campground
Campground Amenities: Bathhouses with hot showers, dump station, free WiFi, tent pads
Class AAA campsites only: Full hookup: water, sewer, electric
Website: Crater of Diamonds State Park: Camping
Address: 2235 AR-301, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2722
Amenities: RV sites, tent sites with and without electric, and one-bedroom cabins available to rent
Website: Miners’ Camping
Diamond John’s Riverside Retreat
Address: 81 Roy Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-4027
Amenities: Four cabins and four teepees available; satellite TV, free WiFi, free use of fishing gear and diamond mining equipment, picnic area, play area nighttime Gem Hunt; pets allowed
Website: Diamond John’s Riverside Retreat
Best Time Of Year To Visit
Peak season is from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, but this is also when the weather is stifling.
Visiting in the spring and coming in as early in the morning or as late in the evening as possible ensures the weather isn’t too hot or humid.
What To Pack
Definitely pack your diamond mining tools, if you have them. Don’t forget to bring a container, like a vial or a small jar, to hold your potential finds.
Bring a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and if the weather is wet, wear old shoes or boots.
If you’re traveling with little kids, make sure you pack other activities for them to do in the state park, such as scooters, sidewalk chalk, bubble wands, and other age-appropriate activities to entertain them when not walking or digging for diamonds.
Where To Eat
The only place to eat inside Crater of Diamonds State Park is in the Kimberlite Café Restaurant, and they’re only open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
In the off-season, or if you want something else aside from sandwiches and hamburgers, you’ll have to drive into downtown Murfreesboro.
Kimberlite Café Restaurant
Address: Crater of Diamonds State Park, Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, AR 71958
Hours: Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend: Mon–Sun 1030am–4pm; rest of the year closed
Cuisine: American, Diner
Website: Kimberlite Café Restaurant
Telinga’s Mexican Cuisine
Address: 100 E 13th St, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2418
Hours: Mon–Sun 10am–9pm
Cuisine: Mexican, Southwestern
Cost: $$ to $$$
Website: Telinga’s Mexican Cuisine
Address: 101 West Main Street, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2078
Hours: Mon–Sat 6am–9pm; Sun 7am–2pm
Cuisine: American, Diner
Cost: $$ to $$$
Website: Southern Dine
Feed Bin Café
Address: 61 Courthouse Square Historic Courthouse Square, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-3122
Hours: Sun–Tue 11am–8pm; Thu–Sat 11am–9pm; Wednesdays closed
Cuisine: Cajun, Creole
Cost: $$ to $$$
Website: Feed Bin Café
Address: 104 E 13th St, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-4146
Hours: Mon–Sun 10am–9pm
Cost: $$ to $$$
Website: Pizza Inn
The Boro Fun Center
Address: 508 N Washington Ave, Murfreesboro, AR 71958 | 870-285-2199
Hours: Sun–Tue 11am–8pm; Thu–Fri 11am–8pm; Sat 11am–9pm; Wednesdays closed
Cuisine: Pizza, café, Italian
Cost: $$ to $$$
Website: The Boro Fun Center
Start Planning Your Diamond Digging Vacation in Arkansas!
Diamond digging is a fun activity, whether or not you actually find diamonds.
Now that you know that you can go digging for diamonds in Arkansas, I hope you consider it for your next vacation.
Other Places in Arkansas to Visit
Murfreesboro isn’t the only interesting place to visit in Arkansas. Hot Springs, AR in the Ouachita Mountains features a National Park and a Gangster Museum.
The Arkansas Ozarks is one of the best places to see fall foliage while hiking in the Ozark National Forest or canoeing down Buffalo National River.
Does diamond digging sound like a holiday you want to go on? Have you gone diamond digging before? Tell us about it in the comments!