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What to Expect at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Crater of Diamonds State Park is the world’s only public diamond mine, located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, which is located in the southwest corner of Arkansas.

We went here to celebrate my nephew’s 10th birthday. It was a fun adventure to dig for a potentially lucky find.

Video of Crater of Diamonds State Park

What To Know 

For only $10, you can go digging for diamonds at this state park. Whatever you find is yours to keep. Buy tickets in advance to guarantee a spot.

Hours: 8 am – 4 pm every day 

From Memorial Day through labor day, the hours are: 11 am – 5 pm

What to Bring to Crater of Diamonds 

To prepare for this event, we purchased rubber boots for everyone in our family that didn’t already have one, since it could get muddy and wet with all the water used to sift the gravel.

Diamond Mining Tools 

In the past, along with the $10 entry fee to the Crater of Diamonds State Park, you could rent all the equipment for sifting for and extra $5, but due to the pandemic, everyone had bring their own equipment.

Fortunately, as of the end of April 2021, when we went to the park, they are allowing rentals again. My sister had already purchased us some tools – a diamond mining kit and sifting pan kit. The kits are not cheap, so I’d definitely opt for rentals if I can. They gem containers did come in handy for the kids, though! Bring something to save the gems and rocks you collect.

If you plan on digging around in the dry soil, you can bring a portable chair or pads to kneel on, and tools to turn over the dirt, such as a gardening shovel, or even a regular shovel! This is if you’re serious about this. If you’re taking kids, all of that might not be necessary.

So, what should you bring? Here’s our list:

  • Screens – Larger holes (to remove bigger rocks) and tighter holes (for filtering the fine gravel). People typically use 2-3 screens with different sizes to sift out large rocks, then medium rocks, and then a fine sifter to let all the dirt pass through, but prevent gravel from falling through.
  • Shovel – Gardening shovels are fine for recreational use and for the kids. If you are a serious miner, bring a large shovel too.
  • Gloves – can use gardening gloves (for dry sifting), if you plan on really getting into the dirt.
  • Pair of rubber gloves for each person – for wet sifting, ideally above your elbows. We managed fine without these, so they are optional.
  • Bucket – To carry the dirt and gravel you want to sift. Some people bring 5 gallon buckets, but we knew for our purposes this would too cumbersome. We brought one of those cleaning buckets to transport gravel to sift.
  • Spoon – or other tool to pick up individual gems, should you find them.
  • A small container with lid – This is to save the special gems, or rocks you find, or a diamond if you get lucky!

Other Items To Bring

There isn’t much shade at Crater of Diamonds State Park, so prepare for the weather you will be going in.  

We went in April, which had a nice breeze, and wasn’t too hot or cold, so it was great, but it’s still good to prepare to be out in the sun for long stretches. I recommend bringing:

  • Rain boots – for easy washing of dirt and mud later. This was a life saver and absolutely necessary.
  • Hat – for shade
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermos with ice – for hot days
  • A large water bottle with lots of water
  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Backpack – to have on your back to carry your things. There’s really no place to put things down when you are digging. You’ll have to carry it with you. We did however, find a nice picnic table in the front for our non-valuables and our food items that we left there.
  • Comfortable clothes you can get wet and a little dirty
  • A change of clothes in case you get wet
  • A waterproof apron that will guard your clothes from getting too wet while wet sifting (optional)

If you need anything, you can go to the Visitor’s Center, which has drinks and other items you might need. 

How It Works

Ways to Search for Diamonds: 

You can look for diamonds by searching for them on the surface after rainfall, or dig around in the dirt to see if you can find any. This was actually how we found our amethyst. The previous day had been very rainy, so it was just sitting right on top of an area where no one was looking.

The main method that people use to find diamonds is wet sifting, where you take gravel and sift it through a screen, then wash all the dirt away.

You stack your 2-3 screens of different sizes on top of each other, with the finest on the bottom and the largest on top. You put gravel on the top, then carry all three into the sifting area, and rinse out the dirt.

You’ll be left with the large rocks. If anything looks special to you, you’re free to keep them, but you can just dump them in the dirt area once you’ve sifted them out.

Continue to sift using the finer sifter. You’ll get gravel and small rocks left after all the he dirt goes into the water.

When you’re ready, there are tables on the other side of the water containers where you can flip your sifter to look at what you’ve got.

Diamonds are heavier than volcanic rock and the gravel, so they sink to the bottom after wet sifting. Once all the dirt is washed away, you flip over the sifter on a table to see if you can spot any diamonds on the top of your pile.

If you are lucky and find a diamond, you take the diamond to the Diamond Discovery Center (which is located in the basement level – the same level as the diamond mine) where they will certify it right there for you. They will tell you the size and color of the diamond and you’ll get a nice fancy box.

If you didn’t find a diamond, you can still take all the unique gems and rocks to the Diamond Discovery Center, and they will tell you what you found.

We found an amethyst, which they said was very rare. It’s super tiny, but it was a small success after hours searching for a diamond.

Crater of Diamond Tips 

Tricks to Finding Diamonds 

Go towards gravel and wet areas where the rain has washed away the dirt to expose the gravel. Look for exposed rocks and gravel, and start sifting there. In some areas you’ll get mostly dirt, which is why the areas with more rocks are best.

How to Identify a Diamond 

A diamond will sparkle and have a luster to it compared to all of the other rocks and volcanic rock. Sometimes it will have a metallic sheen, but when everything is wet, everything will look shiny, so it may be a little more difficult to tell the difference. Once dry, you will easily be able to identify the diamond.

Washing Station

I was thankful to see there is an area between the Visitor’s Center and the diamond mine where you can rinse your rubber boots. Once you’re done for the day, get those boots clean before you head back to your car!

Crater of Diamonds State Park Tips 

  • Prepare for some physical labor – Although searching for diamonds sounds like fun, it’s also a lot of work. You’ll have to carry your buckets of gravel to the washing stations.
  • Take breaks from the heat – There have been people in the park that have suffered from heat exhaustion, so be sure to stay hydrated and take breaks during hot weather.
  • Plan for a shorter trip if you have kids – If you’re traveling with kids, the younger ones don’t last very long. A few hours might be plenty for them before they want to go, depending on their age.
  • Bring a change of clothes for the kids – Kids get very dirty, especially if there are wet areas. There are bathrooms inside the Visitor’s Center to change afterwards.
  • Make sure to drink water – You can get so absorbed digging that you forget to hydrate. Make the water easily accessible so you can hydrate while you work.

Overall, it was an interesting and unique experience. The kids came back with a few rocks from the trip in their little containers, and our daughter was especially happy with the amethyst we gave her. Just finding something special can make anyone feel like the entire trip was worth it!

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