About Crater of Diamonds State Park
If you’re looking for a safe weekend excursion in Arkansas, consider a road trip to visit Crater of Diamonds State Park. The park is “one of the only places in the world where the public can search for real diamonds in their original volcanic source.”
Crater of Diamonds State Park is located in Murfreesboro in southwest Arkansas, and the main attraction is the diamond search field.
The Geological History of the Park
You may be thinking, “Why are there diamonds in a field in Arkansas?” The park’s diamond search area is best explained by geologists:
About 300 to 250 million years ago, the continent we now call South America collided with the southern portion of present day North America. This collision formed the Ouachita Mountains from sediments that were deposited in a deep ocean environment.
The Ouachita’s began to erode and during the Cretaceous Period (144 to 66 million years ago), the southern area of this eroded mountain range was covered by seas and the area of the Park was near-shore, but under shallow seawater.
About 100 million years ago, instability in the Earth’s mantle caused the movement of gas and rock to the surface. This volcanic vent, known as the “Prairie Creek” diatreme by geologists, rose rapidly through the upper mantle and crust, carrying with it fragments of mantle and crustal rocks and minerals, until it came near enough to the surface to explode due to the release of gases.
When it exploded, it created an 83-acre funnel-shaped crater with sides sloping inward at about 45 degrees. Much of the airborne material formed by the initial explosion fell back into the vent. The speed of rise of the mass allowed the diamonds to be preserved in this material.
Arkansas State Parks
Geologists calculate that only about 160 feet of the original vent has been eroded away, concentrating the heavy minerals, including diamond, in the present day soil. At the Crater, diamonds are often found loose in the soil, having been released during the rapid weathering of this unstable mantle rock.
Diamonds Found at the Park
Yes, you really can find valuable diamonds at the park. On average, visitors find two diamonds per day at Crater of Diamonds State Park. Since the official opening of the field as a state park, visitors have found over 29,000 diamonds.
This past June, two diamonds were discovered by park visitors, weighing in at a respective 6.39 and 2.73 carats. Other notable diamonds found include:
Uncle Sam was discovered in 1924 by an employee by Wesley Oley Basham when the search area was still owned by the Arkansas Diamond Corporation.
Uncle Sam is the largest diamond ever discovered in the United States. The uncut gem weighed 40.23 carats and was given an emerald cut by Schenck & Van Haelen in New York City. The diamond is now in a private collection.
Star of Murfreesboro
In 1964, John Pollock found a 34.25 carat diamond which he named the Star of Murfreesboro.
The Strawn-Wagner Diamond, discovered in 1997, is largely considered the world’s most perfect diamond after receiving a “perfect” 0/0/0 grade by the American Gem Society and Gemological Institute of America. The park purchased this diamond, and you can see it in person at the Visitor Center.
Visiting Crater of Diamonds Park During COVID-19
Crater of Diamonds Park is still open during COVID-19, but there are adjustments to regular operations:
- The park limits tickets to the search field to 800 per day and often sell out.
- Visitors ages 10+ must wear face coverings in the Visitors Center, Diamond Discovery Center, Pavilions, and Sun Shelters.
- You have to stay at least 12 feet away from others in the diamond search field unless you have your mask on.
- The search field now closes at 4 p.m. daily instead of 7 p.m.
- Usually mining tools are available for rent, but rentals are not currently available. Bring your own mining tools—anything you want to use to dig that’s not battery or motor operated. This includes work gloves, shovels, and trowels.
- The Diamond Springs Water Park is temporarily closed.
Other Park Activities
Even though the water park is not open, you can enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking in the park.
The park is a great place to camp, with a shady tree canopy covering 47 class AAA campsites with water/electric/sewer hookups and five walk-in tent sites with tent pads. You can check availability and make a reservation for your campsite online.
Fish on the banks of the Little Missouri River for trout, catfish, bream, and bass. You’ll need to purchase a fishing license before you cast your first line, though.
There are three trails in Crater of Diamonds State Park that you can hike.
- Little Missouri River Trail: an easy, relaxing 1.2 mile hike through the woods from the campground to the Little Missouri River. The first half of the trail is paved and wheelchair accessible.
- Prospector Trail: another easy, 1.2 mile trail that goes near the diamond search area. You must have a ticket to the search area in order to hike this trail.
- Wildlife Observation Blind Trail: a short, 15-minute hike on a gravel trail to see the park’s wildlife observation blind to view the park’s abundant animals.
Reserve your spot in the diamond search field by purchasing tickets in advance. Before you start traveling, you can confirm the park’s hours and restrictions by calling them at (870) 285-3113 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find a Diamond? Insure with Farm Bureau Insurance
If you’re lucky out in the diamond search field, the diamond is yours to keep, and it may be worth a lot of money! Farm Bureau Insurance has policies that cover precious gems like diamonds, particularly while they travel on your person. To find out more about this type of policy (Inland Marine), contact your local Farm Bureau Insurance agent.